The Te Putahi-a-Toi team in the Capital includes (left to right) Dr Chris
Cunningham, Sharon Taite, Sheridan McKinley, Margaret Forster (front),
Amohia Boulton, Lynne Pere, Kirsty Maxwell, Rangi Mataamua and Jacob Tapiata.
School of Mäori
Studies begins new development phase in Capital
A formal karakia in the Universitys commercial
building on Adelaide Road last week marked the start of a new phase of
development for the School of Mäori Studies in the capital.
Now located one floor above the Universitys new Centre for Public
Health Research, the School of Mäori Studies (Te Putahi-a-Toi) is
extending its reach in Mäori language teaching, while simultaneously
expanding its Mäori development research programmes. About 10 lecturers
and researchers will eventually be employed.
Head of Mäori Studies Professor Mason Durie says while the former
Wellington Polytechnic was nationally recognised as a pioneer in Mäori
language immersion teaching, other providers such as Te Wananga
o Raukawa have largely taken over that function, at least for the
introductory classes. The role of Mäori studies in Wellington was
reappraised after the merger and the emphasis shifted from certificate
courses to postgraduate courses and a research focus. Professor Durie
says there is a strong need for postgraduate courses in Mäori language
and in other aspects of Mäori development.
the past, Wellington Polytechnic courses were geared at undergraduate
or diploma level. We see an increasing need in Wellington for postgraduate
studies, especially in te reo Mäori, he says.Key new
programmes include the postgraduate Diploma in Mäori language. The
programme will be useful for Mäori language teachers, as well as
Mäori public servants who find they need more sophisticated language
skills when dealing with Mäori communities.
Professor Durie says a series of research programmes directly related
to Mäori development will be the second key area of activity area
on the Wellington campus. The HRC-funded Mäori health research programme
(Te Pumanawa Hauora), established at Turitea in 1993, is now being extended
to Wellington. The programme focuses on evidence-based, Mäori-centred
research. Outcomes are linked to measurable gains in social, cultural
and economic development.
In conjunction with this work is the FoRST-funded Te Hoe Nuku Roa research
project. This 20-year study of 700 Mäori households will benchmark
what policies are required for Mäori to benefit at a household level.
Researchers work to develop those policies, to give sound advice to the
Professor Durie says a critical part of Mäori development is health,
so much of the research in Wellington will be health related. Were
not coming to it from a clinical position thats for the medical
schools but we will look at it from angles of public health, service
delivery and health promotion. In this area, we have an obvious synergy
with Professor Neil Pearces Centre for Public Health Research, located
in the same building. Im sure many mutual benefits will result.
Another focus on the Wellington campus will be professional development
raising the skills, the knowledge base and qualifications within
the Mäori workforce.
We have three or four programmes available now in which we are trying
to increase the qualifications of Mäori people who are directly involved
in Mäori development.
These programmes include a recently-launched health workforce development
project, plus continued contributions of the Mäori dimension to nursing
studies and social work programmes. A PhD programme on both the Turitea
and Wellington campuses is also targeting Mäori graduates. Currently
the School has 28 PhD candidates.
Professor Durie says since the mid-80s there has been an increasing emphasis
on the development of Mäori delivery systems, particularly in areas
such as justice, education and health. Its part of this notion
of autonomy, of Mäori taking the lead. After a decade, there is now
recognition that in order to take it to another level, the skill and qualification
base must be improved, he says.
He expects Te Putahi-a-Toi to develop its own style on the Wellington
campus. Research projects in Wellington will be unique to that campus
and reflect the interests of the Capital as much as the wider Mäori
Funding for Wellington research programmes will mostly come from external
agencies such as the HRC, FoRST, the Ministries of Education, Health and
Social Policy, Te Mangai Paho and Te Puni Kokiri.
Professor Durie wants to see strong links maintained between the campus
Kuratini marae and Te Putahi-a-Toi.
Obviously the marae will retain its broad function of being the
centre for all Mäori activities on campus, and serving all departments.
For the School of Mäori Studies the marae, rather than the Schools
new facility, will continue to be the cultural centre of the campus.
Health Research Programme director Dr Chris Cunningham says two-thirds
of Te Putahi-a-Tois activities in Wellington will be research. An
important aspect of this will be proximity to Ministry of Health policy
makers, and the close ties expected to develop with the Centre for Public
An important area will be measuring health outcomes for Mäori
knowing how effective a particular programme has been. The unit will also
look at Mäori research systems which are largely outside the
mainstream in order to establish which methods work best for Mäori.
Dr Cunningham says while comparing average Mäori health statistics
to those of Pakeha is interesting, it doesnt help much in the way
of solutions, because most Mäori arent average.
So were therefore looking at the range of social and economic
disparities within Mäori. How you measure them, and how you might
do something about them. We see a range of interactions happening here,
the fact that not all Mäori are the same, that people have different
levels of access to cultural resources, to language, to marae, to economic
resources. And what of the generations of city-dwellers, who are also
Mäori, who experience poor outcomes? The broad research programme
is about asking the questions, understanding the answers from a Mäori
perspective, then coming up with solutions that produce measurable gains
for Mäori overall.