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Chanel Phillips 2020 image 1xBPhEd MPhEd(with distinction) PhD (exceptional thesis award)

Lecturer in Māori Physical Education and Health
Co-Director Te Koronga Indigenous Science Research Theme

Tel +64 3 479 8378
Office: Room 113, 55 Union Street West


Te puna i keteriki, keteriki, kete tana riki! E tū atu nei Ngāti Hine pukepuke rau tihei mauriora! Tēnā koutou katoa, he kākano au nō te māra o Hineāmaru, nō Ngāti Hine me Ngāpuhi ahau. Kei te mihi.

My genealogical links to the Far North in Ngāti Hine and Ngāpuhi firmly grounds me as a Māori academic. I am a Lecturer in Māori physical and education and health and joined the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences as an academic staff member in 2019. I completed my Bachelor of Physical Education in 2013, a Master of Physical Education with distinction in 2015 and awarded exceptional PhD thesis in 2019. I was appointed co-director of Te Koronga: Indigenous Science Research Theme in 2018.

I am also a member of the Coastal People: Southern Skies collaboration that connects communities with world-leading, cross-discipline research to rebuild coastal ecosystems.
Coastal People: Southern Skies

My broad research expertise focuses on the following areas:

  1. Māori physical education and health
  2. Māori water safety
  3. Māori attitudes to water
  4. The intersect of Māori and Western notions of water safety and drowning prevention
    He Kitenga: Stemming the tide has more about Chanel's water safety research
  5. Tikanga Māori and the outdoors
  6. Indigenous Science
  7. Mōteatea, karakia, pūrākau, whakataukī, pepeha pertaining to wai
  8. Kaitiakitanga and environmental sustainability


  • SPEX 306Te Pou o Te Koronga – Advanced Māori Physical Education and Health
  • SPEX 316 Practicum – Ki Uta Ki Tai: From the Mountains to the Sea Conservation Volunteer Week


My overall research platform aligns to Te Koronga and the focus of growing ancestral scholarship and excellence, leadership and community connectedness. My research expertise as a former postgraduate student within Te Koronga Graduate Research Excellence therefore draws directly from these three pillars; namely my proficiency in mātauranga, tikanga and Te Reo Māori (ancestral scholarship and excellence), my strong leadership skills working across several student, academic and community groups (leadership), and my kaupapa Māori approach to working with Māori communities (community connectedness).

My PhD entitled A Journey to Belonging: Explorations of Māori Perspectives of Water Safety analysed Māori oral narratives such as pūrākau (creation stories), mōteatea (chants), karakia (incantations), whakataukī (proverbs) and pepeha (tribal aphorisms) to better understand water safety and drowning prevention from a Māori perspective and help reduce the high drowning rate of Māori in Aotearoa. I employ interface research examining the intersection between Māori and Western notions of water safety reflecting the multidisciplinary approach I have to research, and its transdisciplinary nature.

Waka and water safety

We are members of Tangaroa Ara Rau which is a nation wide collective of Māori water safety experts interested in strengthening connections to the water for wellness. We also support many waka and water safety whānau such as Hauteruruku ki Puketeraki waka club, Live It Enterprises Mr Rob Hewitt and Te Toki Voyaging Trust.
Tangaroa Ara Rau

Projects include:

  • Principal Investigator HRC Rangahau Hauora Māori grant – Tangaroa Ara Rau: Māori Water Safety Programme for Whānau
  • Principal Investigator Te Koronga Seeding Grant – Te Puna I Keteriki: Nurturing Ngāti Hine Whānau Aspirations of Water Safety in Te Taitokerau.

Indigenous science

We lead a University of Otago Research Theme Te Koronga Indigenous Science.
Te Koronga Indigenous Science website

The research focus is indigenous science, including:

  • Science derived from Māori ways of knowing as an example of indigenous science
  • Interface research: the combination of Māori and Western science
  • Science that embodies a decolonising research ethic

The threads that are a feature of all of our research include:

  • Community engagement and co-production
  • Kaupapa Māori methodology
  • Kaupapa Māori methods, namely hui and wānanga
  • Graduate student development


Nelson, J., Jackson, A.-M., Phillips, C., Poa, D., & Skelton, T. K. (2023). Te Papa Tākaro o te Tuakiri: The field of identity in Indigenous Māori rugby. Journal of Sport for Development, 11(1).

Phillips, C., & Jackson, A.-M. (2023). Waka, whanaungatanga and water safety: Using Indigenous knowledge to educate future aquatic educators about Māori water safety in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Journal of Sport for Development, 11(1). Retrieved from

Jackson, A.-M., Cunningham, C., Poa, D., Phillips, C., & Hapeta, J. (Eds.). (2023). MAI Journal, 12(1) [Special Issue: Tēnei tātou Te Koronga Māori research excellence] doi: 10.20507/MAIJournal.2023.12.1.10. [Guest Editors].

Phillips, C., Berghan, J., Clifford, A., Arahanga-Doyle, H., & Totoro, V. (2022). Mauriora and the environment: A Kaupapa Māori exploration of adventure therapy in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 52(Suppl. 1), 144-159. doi: 10.1080/03036758.2022.2139731

Jackson, A.-M., Rewi, T., Hakopa, H., Phillips, C., Russell, P., Parr-Brownlie, L. C., Hulbe, C., Leoni, G., Mita, N., Hepburn, C., Wikaira, J., … Elder, H. (2020). Towards building an Indigenous Science Tertiary Curriculum (Part 2). New Zealand Science Review, 76(1-2), 25-31.

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