Working to end racial oppression supported by $10m MBIE grant

24 September 2020

WERO project team
Left to Right: Dr Arama Rata, Associate Professor Tom Roa, Associate Professor Alice Te Punga Somerville, Dr Omoniyi Alimi, Dr Maree Roche, Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki.

Researchers at the University of Waikato are leading a project that will investigate racial oppression across society. Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki, Dr Arama Rata and Professor Francis Collins say that racism is a social structure that underpins forms of interpersonal and institutional discrimination, which has detrimental effects on 21st Century Aotearoa New Zealand.

The project, Working to End Racial Oppression (WERO), has received an MBIE Endeavour Fund grant of $10m over five years and involves a multi-institute team of 21 researchers from New Zealand and Canada.

WERO is an interdisciplinary, community-informed and international research programme combining three interlinked research aims. The research goals are to examine the individualised, community and societal costs or impacts of racism, to understand how inequities are created and perpetuated in social and institutional systems, and to identify responses that government, institutions and communities can use to challenge racism.

“Racism is evident in the inequitable outcomes across almost every indicator of wellbeing, including those within health, education, housing, employment and justice. While racism is systemic and structural, racism is also socially constructed and maintained and can therefore be dismantled. The links between racism and inequities are visible or hidden. When demands for attention are made, we must respond appropriately if we want to contribute to an inclusive and thriving society,” the team said.

The research team add that the project will examine systems through which racism is reproduced by analysing:

  • The Crown institutions that regulate, train and employ health professionals and their impact on consumers
  • The settler colonial racialisation of differentially positioned communities of colour, including tangata whenua, tangata Moana, and migrants of colour
  • The maintenance of settler colonial narratives through national commemorations
  • The role of privileged populations in excluding racialised communities
  • The significance of employment and housing systems in maintaining inequalities
  • The role of technologies (e.g. social media) in exacerbating inequalities.

Outcomes of the project will include responses to racism such as the development and dissemination of toolkits to audit and address institutional racism, protocols to promote inclusive online communication, strategies for building relationships between racialised communities and guidelines for the ethical remembering of New Zealand history.

The programme assembles knowledge experts in Māori studies, immigration, economics,
data science, human geography, Pacific studies, justice, sociology and psychology, and will amplify innovation by bringing these knowledge systems into dialogue, towards the transformational long-term agenda of ending racial oppression in Aotearoa.

The team involved in Working to End Racial Oppression (WERO), includes:

  • Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki, University of Waikato
  • Dr Arama Rata, University of Waikato
  • Professor Francis Collins, University of Waikato
  • Dr Omoniyi Alimi, University of Waikato
  • Associate Professor Polly Atatoa Carr, University of Waikato
  • Jacinta Forde, University of Waikato
  • Dr Justin Phillips, University of Waikato
  • Associate Professor Tom Roa, University of Waikato
  • Dr Maree Roche, University of Waikato
  • Dr Ottilie Stolte, University of Waikato
  • Assistant Professor Jeffrey Ansloos, University of Toronto
  • Dr Donna Cormack, University of Auckland
  • Dr Michelle Johnson-Jennings, University of Saskatchewan
  • Dr Sandy Lee, University of Auckland
  • Dr Dave Maré, Motu: Economic and Public Policy Research Trust
  • Dr Karlo Mila, Mana Moana
  • Bilal Nasier, University of Auckland
  • Tina Ngata, Consultant
  • Dr Damian Scarf, University of Otago
  • Associate Professor Rachel Simon-Kumar, University of Auckland
  • Anne Waapu, Ngāti Kahungunu

Project Advisors are:

  • Dr Tawhanga Nopera, University of Waikato
  • Associate Professor Alice Te Punga Somerville, University of Waikato
  • Professor Tracey McIntosh, University of Auckland

Latest stories

Related stories

Dr Adele Williamson and Dr Jaimie Veale

Top Waikato researchers receive prestigious Rutherford Fellowship grants

Two top researchers at the University of Waikato have received $800,000 each as part of…

Professor Ross Lawrenson

Honorary Fellowship for Waikato Health expert

Ross Lawrenson, Professor of Population Health at the University of Waikato, has been awarded Honorary…

Kim Pickering

Major funding boost for circular economy research programme

Engineering Professor Kim Pickering has been awarded $10.9m in Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment…

Research team

New research seeks to transform data ecosystems to benefit indigenous peoples

A team of University of Waikato researchers have successfully secured $6m funding over four years…

Spotlight on Inclusive Theatre for NZSL Week 2020

A University of Waikato academic’s research programme is continually adding to a body of theatre…

Anya Noble

New study into mānuka leaf surface could help maximise high-grade honey production

University of Waikato researchers have found a unique group of microorganisms on the surface of…

Waikato researchers receive $26.9m in MBIE Endeavour funding

The University of Waikato has successfully secured funding for three projects, worth a total of…

$12.5m project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using ‘digital twin’ technology

University of Waikato School of Engineering Professor Michael Walmsley will lead a seven-year research programme…

Coral bleaching

New study uncovers more causes of coral bleaching

Increased nutrients in the ocean can accelerate coral bleaching caused by high sea temperatures, according…

Consultation with Māori essential for all taonga native plant research

Māori have been using rākau rongoā (Māori herbal medicine) to heal diabetes for a long…

Understanding risks and uncertainty key to protecting our oceans

A University of Waikato researcher is part of a $70 million 10-year Government programme to…

Present Lake Onslow Reservoir on the left.

University of Waikato scientist helps New Zealand move towards 100% renewable energy

The Government will invest $30 million into investigating a proposed hydro storage scheme at Lake…