Mahi tahi will continue to be a priority for the two new co-chairs of Te Poutama Māori.
Pūkenga Matua Senior Lecturer Law Metiria Stanton Turei (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi, Rangitane, Te Ātiawa), and Pūkenga Lecturer Theology Revd Dr Wayne Te Kaawa (Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Awa, Tūhoe), took over as co-chairs of the group - the University of Otago's Māori Academic Staff Collective – last month.
Te Poutama Māori was established in 2008 under the leadership of Professor Jacinta Ruru and Janine Kapa-Blair, with an aim to enable Māori academics to come together to share, support and inspire one another in the pursuit of research, teaching and service excellence.
While both Stanton Turei and Dr Te Kaawa describe themselves as ‘new’, to the Faculty of Law and to academia respectively, they are both excited to be working with and learning from Māori academics such as Professor Jacinta Ruru, Professor Suzanne Pitama and the wider Te Poutama group.
“We have all these clever people with so much experience in the Collective, which for me has been an opportunity to learn and thrive,” says Dr Te Kaawa, who was the Te Poutama representative for the Division of Humanities Te Kete Aronui before taking on the role of co-chair.
Stanton Turei says in her two years at the Faculty, she has been hugely mentored by academics like Professor Ruru.
“It has been extremely helpful in understanding the work of Māori academics and the broad set of responsibilities we have not just in our teaching, research, and service, but also in providing an enormous amount of cultural value to the University and to their tauira.”
Going forward, Stanton Turei says they will continue the mahi on making sure the work, including the successes and challenges, of Māori academics is as visible as possible to the wider University.
“And this includes our growing roopū of early career researchers, who do a huge amount of work in supporting each other and celebrating their contributions.”
Dr Te Kaawa says a big focus in the coming months will be preparing Te Poutama for the changes that might occur when the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) Māori is appointed next year.
“Currently our priority is doing what we can in our capacity to help set-up the DVC Māori position.”
Stanton Turei says in the longer run, “priorities will shift to understanding what the appointment means for us as a roopū and how we engage with the DVC’s office to make sure our priorities as a collective are front and centre”.
Te Poutama Māori regularly organises hui to bring together Māori academic staff from across the divisions and campuses, to wananga on their work and future plans.
“We take a whanaungatanga approach to our work, which is about bringing people together, making the time to have a kōrero and share our achievements and successes,” she says.
And that’s what Dr Te Kaawa likes best about Te Poutama.
“It’s not a committee that goes and locks itself away in a room. Everyone is involved and has the opportunity to have a say,” he says.
Find out more about Te Poutama Māori.
~ Kōrero by Sandra French, Adviser Internal Communications.