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Thursday 23 June 2022 8:51am

Anne-Marie Jackson, Dr Jeremy Hapeta and Chanel Phillips image
Associate Professor Anne-Marie Jackson (left), strategic development lead for the Centre of Indigenous Science, and co-Directors of Te Koronga, Dr Jeremy Hapeta (centre), and Dr Chanel Phillips (right) who was also Te Koronga's first doctoral graduate.

The rise of Matariki brings with it the launch of a new Centre of Indigenous Science at the University of Otago.

Māori academic Associate Professor Anne-Marie Jackson (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu o Whangaroa, Ngāti Wai) is leading the strategic development of the teaching and research aspirations of the Centre over the next six months before it formally starts on 1 January, 2023.

"The Centre of Indigenous Science will be one of the first of its kind in Aotearoa, so this is an opportunity to continue to grow an academic department and scholarship based on ngā kaupapa Māori in sciences," Associate Professor Jackson says.

"We will take this time to reach out to our whānau, hapū, iwi, to our communities and networks and bring together the philosophical understanding and underpinnings of Indigenous Science."

Professor Jacinta Ruru (Raukawa, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Maniapoto), former co-Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga and Professor of Law at the University of Otago, says the creation of the Centre of Indigenous Science is very exciting for the University, and especially for future students and the modern Aotearoa workforce.

"Otago will be soon graduating students who have a deeper understanding of mātauranga Māori; they will be of enormous service to iwi, hapū and whānau, and to our nation," Professor Ruru says.

"As a country we need to value and apply more mātauranga to help address the biodiversity and climate crises. This is a huge moment for Otago and tertiary education world-wide."

Carrying on the legacy of great thinkers in the kaupapa Māori space, Associate Professor Jackson was one of the first 500 Māori doctoral scholars to graduate through the Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga vision, and she also currently co-leads the national Centre of Research Excellence, Coastal People: Southern Skies.

"This kaupapa is aspirational for our communities and taiohi. There might be a student, kid, or whānau member who sees us, and they can see themselves standing right where we are, to normalise excellence," Associate Professor Jackson says.

Associate Professor Jackson adds the new Centre will be a place for tauira to be nurtured and supported to contribute to their communities, Māori research and the world.

"We can teach anyone the academic skills, but we also pride ourselves on nurturing and bringing out the authenticity of who we are. Our graduates achieve highly in their work but also come out the end of the process as a whole person with their mana intact."

The new Centre will be located within the Division of Sciences, and the Division's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Barker says this creates a launching pad for the development of a new and innovative programme.

"As one of the first of its kind in Indigenous Science, the Centre's time has come," Professor Barker says. "This is a great opportunity to carve out this new space, and we are excited to see the Centre develop a highly attractive and valuable programme."

New beginnings and a 10th anniversary

As a period of reflection and new beginnings, Matariki will also be a time to move through the findings of a recent review at the University of Otago which identified systemic racism in the organisation, and to look forward and celebrate the tenth year of Te Koronga, the University's Indigenous Science Research Theme and Māori postgraduate research excellence.

Established in 2013 by Associate Professor Jackson and Dr Hauiti Hakopa, Te Koronga has successfully grown a strong graduate and research platform that is open to both Māori and non-Māori researchers involved in Indigenous research focused on mauri ora.

"Over the next few months alone, we will have a further three Māori doctoral tauira graduating who are all driven by questions from their own whānau, and they are being trained in Māori research in sciences using Māori methodologies," Associate Professor Jackson says.

Co-Directors of Te Koronga include Dr Chanel Phillips (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi), Te Koronga's first doctoral graduate, and Dr Jeremy Hapeta (Ngāti Raukawa), who will continue to build Te Koronga's focus of research and teaching excellence underpinned by a kaupapa Māori ethos.

"The kaupapa of Te Koronga describes the ardent yearning and striving for esoteric knowledge as we seek to explore the breadth and depth of mātauranga for flourishing wellness, both for our people and our environments," Dr Phillips says.

"This strong foundation continues to drive our direction and future focus for the betterment of the students we teach, the communities we serve, and the environments we depend on for our health and wellbeing".

For more information, contact:

Associate Professor Anne-Marie Jackson
University of Otago

Dr Chanel Phillips
University of Otago

Guy Frederick
Communications Adviser Sciences
University of Otago
Mob +64 21 279 7688

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