Navigating around the Pakaru Pipeline

Tūmanako Fa'aui and Dan Hikuroa
Thursday, November 19, 2020

NOTE: We haven't got a video presentation for this paper; but join the discussion.

Chronic and severe under-representation of Māori and Pasifika within academia in general and the sciences in particular has been recently highlighted (McAllister et al. 2019; McAllister et al. 2020; Naepi et al. 2019, Naepi 2019). Those findings seriously question whether universities and crown research institutes are committed to honouring their Te Titiri o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi obligations. It is also widely recognised and documented that the barriers are systemic, structural and pervasive, and that significant effort and commitment needs to be made to indigenising and decolonising these spaces. In our approach indigenising is distinguished from decolonising by its focus on aligning space, structures and systems with indigenous ways of knowing and being, whereas decolonising is more about acknowledging and addressing settler-colonial power.

Indigenisation can be manifest as intentional processes undertaken cognisant of the settler-colonial foundations of the university that directly address the inequalities at the core of the institution that impede Indigenous scholars or students opportunities to enjoy success and realise their potential. This abstract and presentation are a direct response to the call to action in McAllister et al. (2019) and will report broadly on some general recent indigenisation efforts in the Faculty of Engineering and specifically regarding the summer internship programme.

For many years firmly ingrained institutional and casual racism was manifest as the annual Haka Party, until He Taua intervened in 1979. Fast-forward to December 2019, where a faculty-led haka (Me Hoki Whakamuri Kia Anga Whakamua) and the unveiling of a pou whenua at the dawn blessing of Te Herenga Mātai Pūkaha (new Engineering facility) demonstrates just how far the faculty has come since the 1970s. The haka was performed by the Dean, staff and students and is representative of a wider commitment to welcome and embrace Māori and Pacific people who wish to study, work or partner with the faculty – building on the first acknowledgement and faculty hosting of He Taua in 2009. All of these actions were intentional and are examples of considered reflection and action aimed at transforming structures and practice. In the tikanga framing of take-utu-ea – the take was the Haka Party, the utu was partially addressed by He Taua and by a subsequent apology, arguably the response of He Taua members at the blessing indicate kua ea.

Summer internships are a mechanism for promising students to engage further with academics and/or industry and are keenly contested. Typically the criteria for selection is academic merit, yet this approach has continually resulted in under-representation of Māori and Pasifika students. An intervention that created opportunities for those students and the quality of the internship reports will be discussed.

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