Friday 23 November 2018 3:32pm
Soon before delivering her inaugural professorial lecture on 14 November, Centre for Sustainability Professor Merata Kawharu was celebrating receiving a $605,000 Marsden Fund grant.
Professor Kawharu (Ngāti Whatua, Ngāpuhi) says her project, entitled A question of identity: how connected are Māori youth to ancestral marae, and does it matter?, will examine the relationship young Māori have with their ancestral marae.
“The grant will provide an opportunity to hear what young Māori today say about ancestral marae and then look at strengthening connections that are meaningful to them and to home communities. The grant will also be an awesome opportunity to support a PHD programme concerning Māori community development, youth and identity.”
"Most Māori people live away from their ancestral home marae. Evidence suggests Māori seek, but struggle, to remain connected to their marae, language and culture. Home marae communities, generally depopulated and geographically isolated are also seeking to maintain contact with their dispersed descendants. But does belonging to marae actually matter amongst young Māori? We aim to investigate difficult issues about marae connection and identity. Through innovative methods, we engage in discussions with young Māori and their source communities to find answers that broaden academic understandings of marae in relation to critical transformations of ‘community’ occurring both at home and overseas. Through novel analytical approaches, combining a Māori values lens and social network theory, our research aims to advance theories of Māori cultural change concerning 'marae' as the pivotal indicator. Our research will also deepen New Zealand's awareness of the diverse needs and aspirations of young Māori and their marae people today. It will provide vital knowledge, regarding how whānau, marae, hapū and others can navigate through complex circumstances of our time. Our findings will offer leading insights from New Zealand and contribute to discussions on similar issues facing indigenous peoples internationally regarding home connection and identity."