Saturday, March 22, 2014

Nga Pae et alia...

I went to last Thursday's hui at Waipapa on 'The Value and Future of Maori Research'. Most talk was, of course, on the recent RSNZ decision to not short-list Nga Pae's rebid.

As 162 of people on the planet know, I posted on that a couple of weeks ago. Most hits of any post of mine in 48 hours (though still less than the time I used the word 'holocaust' in a title... ) Anyway, to reiterate and elaborate:

1. I was not surprised at the decision, and I'm not alone in that. CoRE funding is hard to get and hard to maintain. No one was gonna do us any favours. All the political ducks needed to be in a line and - given the Maori Party's criticism of Minister Joyce - they clearly weren't.

2. For me, Nga Pae was always trying to be all things to all Maori. Community focused research, student support, career development, PBRF'able activities and outputs, international networking. All very important; not all weighted equally within RSNZ criteria. So, for me, it didn't all 'hang together' and given it was cross-disciplinary (indeed trans-disciplinary), I accept it could never be expected to.

3. The rebid criteria were HEAVILY weighted towards research excellence (70%). Yes we can have an ongoing debate about what excellence is in research. The Royal Society simplifies that by providing a list of criteria by which they were gonna figure it out...

No plan survives contact with then enemy, and as several keynotes explicitly said on the day, the government will screw Maori either deliberately or by accident, or usually a combination of the two.

To be caught out is remarkable.

Tipene O'Regan, Nga Pae Chair, says we are on deathrow. Cheers, next...

Leonie Pihama says if so, we go spitting and snarling along the Green Mile.

Mason Durie offered an overview and a multi-disciplinary future.

Iritana Tawhiwhirangi told us how she did it back in the day.

And I just caught Marama Muru-Lanning talking about the material difference Nga Pae made to her and her marae, notably through the MAI Doctoral programme (which, lest we forget, we had to argue for not that long ago...).

Anyhoo. What now?

I was in the Koru lounge with Prof Angus Mcfarlane during discussions but I gather Leonie Pihama and Linda Smith will lead a political charge, Charles Royal will continue with plans to form a Maori Research Institute. Life after death...

Either way, I see less money, less support, probable fragmentation (social science is simply funded less across the board, and many of the physical sciences are struggling) and we're at major risk of being simply tacked on to the National Science Challenges debacle which is a bigger tragedy as it frames research strategy for the next 10 years.

Maybe there's a secret plan so cunning you could et cetera.

There's Facebook and it's 'likes' (we actually need just one like, and that would be Stephen Joyce!), several blogs and re-blogs, letters of support and so on. I remember 'liking' a page that opposed gassing Syrian kids. They did stop but then started dropping barrel bombs from helicopters. Small mercies, right.

I'd just ask two questions:
What's the kaupapa? (Supporting Nga Pae and supporting Maori research have a lot of cross-over but they don't correspond exactly...)

Who's in charge?

And how are we going to be (re)engaged?


GinaScott said...

I appreciate your thoughts on this - I'd be interested to hear what you think the answer should be - not could or will be ;-)

The CoRe process is deficient in that there is no one with expertise in Maori research methods or the research needs of Maori. Given the social and economic challenges NZ faces, one would've thought that research serving Maori needs is critical to NZ's development.

But you are right that there is a broader issue of how should Maori research be organized, and then funded?

Simon Lambert said...

Good question! I started thinking, then typing... results posted above....

Simon Lambert

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