1. Te Pūrongo o Ngā Pou Matarua: Co-Directors Update
  2. He Maimai Aroha: Remembering Dr Haunani-Kay Trask
  3. Kaupapa o Te Marama: Upholding the mana of Mātauranga Māori
  4. He Kōtuku Rerenga Tahi: Co-Director Jacinta Ruru moving on
  5. He Pitopito Kōrero: Recognising our Professional staff 


Ka puta Matariki, ka rere Whānui, tauti mai e te tau hou 
Kua hihipa te tau humi, he wā pukahu, he māpua tōna āhua
Maruru ai te pātaka rangahau Māori o Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga

Whakamānawatia te ope o te rua Matariki
Tiritiria ngā purapura tuawhiti mō te akengokengo 

Kua haehae ngā hihi o Matariki
Whākina ngā pae o te māramatanga
Hahangia, rangahaua, whakamaua kia tina
Kia puta ki te whai ao ki te ao mārama 

Te Pūrongo o Ngā Pou Matarua: Co-Directors update

Matariki - marking the beginning of the Māori New Year - is an opportunity to pause and reflect: to take stock of the year that has been, to remember those that have passed, and to look ahead. 

For Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM), the past year has been one of upheaval and change as we have all had to come to terms with living and working in a global pandemic.

We have lost much-loved colleagues including Associate Professor Manuka Henare, Dr Paora Mato, and Kaumātua David Rawiri Wharemate.

We have also celebrated successes with seven years of additional funding from the Tertiary Education Commission, the election of NPM founding Pou Matarua Co-Director Linda Tuhiwai Smith to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, twelve of our NPM colleagues became Fellows of the Royal Society, Te Apaarangi, and the publication of the landmark book Ngā Kete Mātauranga: Māori scholars at the research interface.  

On the cusp of Matariki, NPM gathered for our Te Tira Takimano Hui-ā-tau (TTT). TTT is NPM’s electoral college that represents our 21 research partners. They include wānanga, Crown Research Institutes, Independent Research Organisations, museums, a tribal college and our eight universities.

Partners, research leaders, Te Kupenga o MAI Co-ordinators and Pacific colleagues were warmly welcomed by mana whenua and our NPM Chair Kerensa Johnson.

The hui was an opportunity for the NPM leadership to articulate the strategic direction and work plan for 2021-2024. Soon we will be launching 5 new research programmes focused on Work, Racism and Equity, Environmental Relationship and Social Wellbeing.

They reflect the persistent challenges of our time and we know that through Māori-led research and the strength of our network NPM can bring impactful and tangible Indigenous solutions to our communities and whānau. 

We were honoured to have Professor Robert Greenberg, Dean-Faculty of Arts, Waipapa Taumata Rau – The University of Auckland, attend and speak at the conference along with Dr Linda Tuhiwai Smith, chair of NPM’s International Research Advisory Board

And we took the opportunity to farewell NPM Co-Director Jacinta Ruru with many hearty tributes, laughs and waiata whilst sitting with our new Co-Director, Professor Tahu Kukutai who will be formally welcomed into the role at Waipapa Marae in September. 

As NPM transitions to a new funding period (2021-2028), we look forward to spring and plan for new beginnings. Aligning our activities with the rising of Matariki means recognising, appreciating and being grateful for the relationships that we have and the achievements we make together. Another year begins. 

Pou Matarua Co-Directors 

- Professor Linda Waimarie Nikora 
- Professor Tahu Kukutai 

Te Tira Takimano Hui-ā-tau 2021, mihi whakatau
Te Tira Takimano Hui-ā-tau 2021, Wakatū (Nelson)

He Maimai Aroha: Remembering Dr Haunani-Kay Trask 

Māreparepa ana ngā tai o te Moana-nui-ā-Kiwa, mai i Ōahu ki Āotearoa; tangi ana te ngākau, kua tae te rongo mo Haunani-Kay Trask. 

Haunani-Kay Trask, a feisty scholar activist and eloquent campaigner for the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement passed away on 3 July. She was a poet, a dreamer, a fighter, a professor. Her academic journey included co-founding the Hawaiian Studies Program at the University of Hawai’i, and she was the inaugural director of the Kamakakūokalanai Centre for Hawaiian Studies. 

E te amokura rongonui, moe mai ra.  

- Emeritus Professor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, NPM Ruānuku 

Kaupapa o Te Marama: Upholding the mana of Mātauranga Māori 

The past month has given rise to two separate, but related, debates about the place of Mātauranga Māori in the education sector.

Earlier in the month the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) announced changes to the Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF). 

The PBRF is a mixed performance-assessment regime used by TEC to distribute funding to tertiary providers.
Changes to the Fund will see work by Māori researchers given a 2.5 funding weighting, and a double weighting for Pacific researchers.

Research incorporating Mātauranga Māori methodologies will receive a funding weighting of 3.0. The funding goes directly to tertiary organisations.

The Chief Executive of Universities New Zealand was roundly criticised when he expressed concerns that the changes could ‘dilute’ the quality of the Fund.

NPM issued a statement strongly backing the TEC’s changes and called on universities to ensure that the funding addresses the shocking under-representation of full-time Māori (5%) and Pacific (2%) academics in the tertiary workforce. (NPM Media Release, 9 July, 2021) 

Also, this month seven senior scholars from the University of Auckland published a letter to the current affairs magazine The Listener headed In defence of science.  In it they challenged the scientific value of Mātauranga, asserted the universalism of [western] science, and rejected the association between science and colonialism.

Their sentiments were widely condemned as inaccurate and racist (see, for example, this piece by Tina Ngata – Defence of Colonial Racism).

Those speaking out in support of Mātauranga included the Royal Society Te Apārangi (Joint Statement resident and Chair of Academy Executive Committee), Auckland University’s Vice-Chancellor and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Professor Dame Juliet Gerrard (see here for an earlier New Zealand Science Review editorial from Juliet Gerrard and NPM Co-Director Professor Tahu Kukutai on the importance of Mātauranga for Aotearoa).  

 As Aotearoa’s only Māori Centre of Research Excellence, NPM has an important ongoing role to play in upholding the mana of Mātauranga, and the pūkenga and communities from whom our mātauranga derives.

We are proud of the outstanding critic and conscience role that many of our NPM researchers have taken in challenging racism and colonialism in all its forms, including within their own institutions.

We look forward to a time when we can dedicate our time and energies to doing excellent, impactful research, as Māori, without having to justify our existence.

He Kōtuku Rerenga Tahi: Co-Director Jacinta Ruru moving on

This year, Matariki marked a significant change for NPM with the departure of Co-Director Professor Jacinta Ruru.

Anyone who knows Jacinta will know the special mix of humility, integrity, enthusiasm and wisdom that she brought to her time at NPM.  

Jacinta came into the Co-Director role in 2016 to sit alongside Professor Tracey MacIntosh.

Jacinta was the first Co-Director to be based outside of the University of Auckland which hosts the NPM secretariat and most of the leadership team.

At the time NPM researchers and partner entities were still transitioning from a heavy reliance on old tech — the digital environments that we now take for granted were not widely used.

Most in the NPM network were strangers to Zoom, and shared collaboration spaces like Dropbox and Google Docs were viewed with some suspicion. Social media was still considered what the kids did.  

Despite vast distances, high reliance on technology and long trips, Jacinta did not see her base in Te Waipounamu, at the University of Otago, as a disadvantage. Quite the contrary.

She served as a magnet for researchers, students, and partner entities, and greatly strengthened NPM’s connections and reach.  


Jacinta led a number of important initiatives during her term at NPM, including Te Takarangi – a celebration of 150 non-fiction works of significant Māori scholarship - and Ngā Kete Mātauranga, co-edited with Professor Linda Waimarie Nikora. 

Jacinta has been tireless in her efforts to push the tertiary sector to achieve equity for Māori and Pacific scholars, to give meaningful effect to Te Tiriti, and to genuinely value Mātauranga Māori and Māori leadership. 

Throughout her tenure Jacinta has continued to make a profound contribution to national and global debates about Indigenous Peoples’ legal interests to own, manage and govern land and water, such as the legal personification of the Wanganui River. Jacinta Ruru Ted Talk: In New Zealand, this river and park are legal persons

In 2016, Jacinta was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi

Although no longer a Co-Director, Jacinta will still hold a key leadership role within NPM as Pou Rautaki of our new impact and transformation lab Te Whare Ariā.  

Thank you for serving our kaupapa, researchers, and communities so superbly Jacinta.  

Nā reira, kei te kaitoitoi manawa, tē mimiti ngā aumihi ki a koe 
Nā tō hautūtanga mātou i whakakipakipa i whakamanawa 
I te mutunga iho, nō mātou o Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga te whiwhi 
Mauri ora ki a koe. 

Professor Jacinta Ruru's final day as NPM Co-Director (Te Tira Takimano Hui-ā-tau 2021, Wakatū)

He Pitopito Kōrero: Recognising our Professional staff

At the end of 2020, NPM had a number of critical staff depart to take up exciting futures outside of the University of Auckland.

As senior executive staff, they took with them a great deal of institutional knowledge (operations, communications, HR, contract management, journal coordination, research network support and engagement) requiring that remaining staff step up and pursue a very steep learning curve to ensure the seamless continuity of the Centre’s business. 

In June, at our TTT Hui-ā-Tau, we recognised the excellent contribution of our professional staff who held the vision of NPM firmly in their sights and ensured we maintained a steady course.

We appreciate their willingness, can do attitude, problem solving abilities, all round cheerfulness and commitment to getting the job done. 

The secretariat professional staff were further recognised with a Dean’s Professional Excellence Award in July. 

Noho ora mai rā,

Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga | New Zealand's Māori Centre of Research Excellence
Waipapa Marae Complex | Private Bag 92019 | Auckland | New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 923 4220

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