Director’s Update: Progress on our Te Tiriti commitments

09 Whanake Project 03

16 September 2021

Progress on our Te Tiriti and mātauranga and kaupapa Māori research commitments

By Richard Smith, Kaiwhakahaere matua

The National Science Challenges were established in 2014, founded on a unique combination of key principles, including the advancement of mātauranga Māori and a focus on Māori involvement. The Resilience Challenge is relatively early in its journey towards being a Te Tiriti-led organisation. Phase 1 of the Challenge was characterised by a focus on supporting Māori natural hazard researchers, building partnerships with a small number of iwi and hapū, and extending the reach of ‘Vision Mātauranga’ in the context of disaster resilience.

In Phase 2 of the Challenge we are moving towards a deeper commitment supported by actions that are aligned to progress being made in the research and science system, and the wider public sector. We recognise that we are constrained in how far we can move towards true bi-lateral partnership, in part due to earlier decisions that have locked-up resources, limiting opportunities for Māori influence on future direction setting. We also acknowledge that there are practical limits on the extent to which we might re-organsise ourselves given the limited remaining life of the existing Challenge contract. However, with a clear intent to make progress we are focusing our efforts on several areas including representation, enabling ‘by Māori for Maori’ kaupapa Māori research and mātauranga Māori activities, resourcing our mātauranga leadership efforts, and ensuring our Māori research partners can participate in mana-enhancing ways.

This means supporting Māori research and mātauranga leadership, resourcing research participation by hapū, protecting Māori data sovereignty, and ensuring our research benefits those hapū we work with and wider Māori communities. We are increasing Māori representation on our Governance Group and our science leadership team, resourcing efforts to connect our Māori researchers with each other through the establishment of Te Rangapū Rangahau Māori, and establishing engagement agreements for each of our mātauranga Māori projects. We are also building the capability of the Challenge Tāngata Tiriti to engage and communicate in ways that build relationships, enable participation on hapū terms, and ensures the research delivers meaningful benefits for those involved.

We have created the ‘Ākina Te Tū – Kaupapa Māori Engagement Fund’ to support Māori researchers, and enable tangata whenua engagement within projects that are already underway in the Challenge.

The Resilience Challenge is also an active supporter of the Rauika Mangai, which is bringing together the collective efforts of NSC kaupapa Māori researchers, Māori scientists and mātauranga Māori experts (in collaboration with Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga). This rōpū is extending best practice approaches to ‘Vision Mātauranga’ (the MBIE Science policy), innovating mātauranga Māori, and influencing Aotearoa science policy to extend the mātauranga continuum and deliver benefits for whanau, hapū and iwi.

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