The Future of Maori Academics in NZ Universities

Dr Tyron Love & Professor C. Michael Hall - IIRC20
Thursday, November 19, 2020

The future looks grim for Māori academics and for the New Zealand universities hoping to recruit them. Māori academics are underrepresented in New Zealand universities, making up only 6% of the university academic workforce despite being 14.9% of the New Zealand general population. Although often well meaning, New Zealand universities have at times worked to exclude Māori academic intellectualism from the mainstream; at other times they have worked to exploit Māori academics for their cultural knowledges to further advance university agendas. While these observations give reason to be concerned for the future of Māori academics and New Zealand universities, a look to New Zealand’s historical past reveals it even more so, suggesting an orchestrated series of institutional effects which warns the grim future won’t be so easy to avoid. This Marsden study draws on an institutional framework utilising self-correcting induction, conversational and archival inquiry, and narrative analysis to examine the political power relations between the New Zealand university sector and Māori academics between the 1990s and 2021. Our ultimate purpose is to subvert this deep-seated grim looking future for Māori academics and New Zealand universities, as well as open up new conversations about indigenous exclusion and exploitation in other postcolonial contexts.

What we don’t know is how and when Māori academics can act against those institutional actors and arrangements which seek to undermine and exploit them as well as exclude and abuse them, their customs, knowledges and languages. Our research has relevance for ‘post’-colonial (here on in, postcolonial) contexts such as Australia, Canada and the USA since universities in these states are part of institutional fields of power and governmentality shaped by a history of colonial invasion in similar ways to New Zealand. Our ultimate purpose is to subvert this deep-seated grim looking future for Māori academics and New Zealand universities as well as open up new conversations about indigenous exclusion and exploitation. This presentation will outline the proposed study which is currently going through ethics approval. The overall aim of this research is to examine the political power relations between the Māori academic and the New Zealand university sector between the 1990s and 2021 to contribute to national and international postcolonial debates about the causes of, and solutions to, indigenous exclusion and exploitation in universities. To do this, our study will use an historical interorganisational institutional analytic framework to answer the following research questions (RQs): RQ1: When and how do university institutional actors and arrangements have the capacity to exclude and exploit Māori academics? RQ2: When and how can Māori academics act successfully against institutional actors and arrangements which seek to exclude and exploit them? RQ3: What is the relevance of the findings to broader debates on indigenous exclusion and exploitation in universities in other postcolonial states?

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