Story: Māori Studies – ngā tari Māori

Page 4. Māori studies expands to other universities

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Victoria University of Wellington

The example set by the University of Auckland in teaching Māori studies made it easier for other institutions to follow suit. In 1964 Victoria University of Wellington responded to student demand for Māori studies by recruiting Joan Metge as senior lecturer in the new Department of Anthropology. Pending the appointment of a professor, Metge was tasked with starting Māori studies under the aegis of anthropology. In 1965 Wiremu (Bill) Parker was seconded from teaching university extension to teach the first Māori language paper, while Metge taught a course on Māori society and culture.

Ruka Broughton

As a young boy Ruka Broughton (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Rauru) became the student of a tohunga named Rākei Kīngi, who passed on his knowledge of whakapapa (genealogy), waiata, karakia and combat techniques. Broughton later became an Anglican priest, although he maintained his activities as a tohunga. In 1979 he was appointed a lecturer in Māori at Victoria University, and revived interest in traditional karakia. He also composed waiata such as ‘Kāore taku raru’, about his impending death, which was adopted by Te Herenga Waka, the Victoria University marae, as its signature waiata.

Koro Dewes

In 1966 Parker was sent back to the extension department because he did not have a degree. He was replaced by Te Kapunga (Koro) Dewes, who had an MA from Auckland. Dewes led a programme on te kawa o te marae (marae protocol) that produced fluent speakers of Māori capable of delivering a mihi (formal speech of welcome on a marae) and whaikōrero (a speech in reply). Because it based its teaching on Māori-language immersion, Victoria became the university of choice for students wanting to become fluent speakers of Māori. Dewes promoted the idea of Māori studies becoming a mini-department separate from the Anthropology Department.

Hirini Mead

In 1975 the university appointed Hirini Mead to a chair in Māori studies. Mead’s tenure saw Māori Studies become a department in its own right (in 1978). In 1979 Victoria University began to offer a masters programme in Māori Studies. Mead also instituted a Māori graduation ceremony and oversaw the development of Te Herenga Waka, which was the first marae on a university campus when it opened in 1986.

The earth moves

In March 1974 the newly appointed lecturer in Māori, Te Awaroa Nēpia, attended his first Faculty of Arts meeting at the University of Canterbury. His appointment had followed years of lobbying by students and staff. As he stood to respond to his welcome, Nēpia began with a mihi (greeting) in the Māori language. At that moment the building shook with a small earthquake. The arrival of Māori studies was indeed a shock!

University of Canterbury

In 1974 Te Awaroa (Bill) Nēpia was appointed as the sole Māori lecturer at Canterbury. He modelled his language teaching on the programme established by Dewes at Victoria. Unable to recruit qualified Māori staff, Nēpia appointed Margaret Orbell, an anthropologist, to teach and develop scholarship in Māori literature. When Nēpia died in 1987 there were no suitable Māori candidates to fill the vacancy. Orbell was appointed head of Māori studies.

In 1990 Te Matawhānui, the Māori University Teachers Association, signalled to Canterbury University that it wanted a Māori head of department for Māori studies. The request was satisfied with the appointment of Roger Maaka in 1991.

Massey University

In 1971 Hugh Kāwharu was appointed to a chair in anthropology at Massey University. He established Māori studies as a section of anthropology and recruited native speakers to teach the language. The programme leader, Āpirana Mahuika, followed the Dewes model of Māori-language immersion. Other native speakers such as Taiarahia Black consolidated the programme to the point where the university decided to establish a chair in Māori studies. Mason Durie was appointed to the chair in 1988, and Māori studies became an independent department.

University of Waikato

The University of Waikato followed a different strategy from the other universities. James Ritchie promoted the establishment of a Māori studies research centre, and Te Kotahi (Robert) Mahuta was appointed director of the centre in 1972. The Māori studies section concentrated on teaching oral fluency in the language and knowledge of tikanga (Māori customs), while a separate centre focused on research.

The research centre produced a series of papers on the socio-economic and demographic profile of the tribes in the Waikato region. These papers culminated in the Tainui report of 1983, which examined the socio-economic status of Tainui and prepared the ground for negotiations to settle the Tainui Treaty of Waitangi claim against the Crown.

University of Otago

The University of Otago introduced Māori studies in 1983. A review in 1995 indicated that there was a shortage of qualified teaching staff. The university responded by appointing Tania Ka’ai as professor of Māori studies. The language programme of the new department was subsequently strengthened by the appointment of John Moorfield.

Staff qualifications

In 1999 only three of the seven departments of Māori studies were headed by people with a PhD. In addition to teaching students, all Māori studies departments were focused on staff development and training. It became a requirement for the appointment of junior staff that they enrol for an advanced degree (a masters or doctorate).

How to cite this page:

Ranginui Walker, 'Māori Studies – ngā tari Māori - Māori studies expands to other universities', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/maori-studies-nga-tari-maori/page-4 (accessed 23 July 2019)

Story by Ranginui Walker, published 22 Oct 2014