TEU submission on Māori research options

Posted By TEU on Aug 14, 2009 |

Submission” of the” Tertiary Education Union (TEU) Te HautūKahurangi o Aotearoa

on the” PBRF Sector Reference Group consultation paper” “Māori research – part 2 – options”

14 August 2009

For further information please contact:

Jo Scott
Policy Analyst
Tertiary Education Union
Te HautūKahurangi o Aotearoa

Māori Research – part 2 – options

The New Zealand Tertiary Education Union (TEU) Te HautūKahurangi o Aotearoa is the largest tertiary sector union in this country.”  Our membership currently sits at approximately 11,500 members, covering all types of TEOs in the sector.

Prior to the formation of the TEU on 1st January 2009, both AUS and ASTE have made submissions on a range of topics related to the PBRF.”  When the PBRF was introduced, we raised a number of concerns about the model, many of which have unfortunately emerged as issues in the sector.”  Our stance on the PBRF model some years on from its introduction is that minimal changes should be implemented as a result of the current review.”  We have taken this position with the current funding model as we believe that post-2012 the sector should vigorously debate alternative models that could replace the PBRF, which we regard as fundamentally flawed.

For this reason the TEU holds the view that further changes to the model, other than minor adjustments (such as clarifying guidelines) would put unnecessary pressure on academic and general staff involved in research and on TEOs, would risk further undermining the data obtained so far from assessment rounds, and should therefore be rejected.

Response to feedback questions Option A: Introduce a strategic weighting of 4.0 to all RDCs written entirely in te reo Māori

The TEU would be supportive of this option as it focuses attention on the importance of the continued re-vitalisation of te reo Māori as an ‘at-risk’ indigenous language.”  As well, as is noted in the discussion paper, such a move encourages those researchers with the capability to conceptualise and present their work in te reo Māori to do so, thus providing a more appropriate vehicle for presenting some concepts.

The SRG notes that at present there may be limited capability to examine theses in te reo Māori.”  Whilst this may currently be an issue, we do not see it as being a reason not to amend the Strategic Weighting, as such a move is unlikely to have a major impact on the numbers of theses being examined in te reo Māori.”  The issue of capacity in our view, whilst potentially having an impact on panels, sits outside of this discussion.

We are uncertain what ‘perverse incentives’ the SRG may see arising as a result of such a change?

The SRG notes as a possible disadvantage that the potential for a particular piece of research to be referenced internationally could be reduced if written in te reo Māori.”  In our view this issue goes to the heart of the debate about research impact.”  For many Māori researchers publishing their research in te reo Māori is an important means of presenting their thinking to their own communities, and representing complex concepts accurately.”  In many instances the research findings will directly impact on or assist these communities; it is therefore right and proper that the work be presented in a manner that resonates most profoundly with them.”  Of secondary importance in many instances is international impact of research findings; here there is nothing preventing the researcher from publicising their work in English should the need arise.

Option B: Raise the weighting of the MKD panel to 2.0.

Before exploring this option, consideration would have to be given to the impact that the weighting increase might have.”  Additionally if this option were to have any significant impact for Māori knowledge research, it would need to be supported by a requirement that funding be specifically allocated, a change that the TEU believes is too significant for this review.

Option C: Consider appointing an appropriate number of Māori panel members to panels that may be likely to be evaluating significant numbers of EPs from Māori researchers.

Whilst the TEU is supportive of this option in principle, the practical application of it may render it untenable at this stage (as is noted in the SRG’s comments).

Option D: Ensure that the selection of MKD panellists is not contingent on self-nomination or on prospective panellists having a PhD.”  Identify individuals recognised nationally for their Māori knowledge and approach these people to be on the MKD panel.

The TEU is of the view that because the MKD is assessing research that is seeking to advance and expand understanding of Māori knowledge-systems, it is appropriate for the panel selection process to reflect these knowledge-systems.”  To this end, we would view self-selection of panellists as contrary to accepted practices of tikanga, where such decisions would normally be made on the basis of the collective will, and usually with the guidance of kaumātua.

Panel selection process guidelines should also prioritise nationally and/or internationally recognised academic expertise, along with in-depth and nationally recognised knowledge of te āo Māori.

Option E: Appoint one or two international indigenous researchers to the MKD panel for the 2012 Quality Evaluation.

The issue raised by the SRG regarding the difficulty of international panellists assessing publications in te reo Māori is a valid one.”  Therefore at this stage in the PBRF cycle we would not support the inclusion of international panellists, unless of course they were Māori academics with expertise in these fields who are working abroad in tertiary institutions.”  Putting aside issues relating to ability to assess publications in te reo, there is certainly room to consider input from other indigenous academics, who understand the dynamic nature of indigenous thinking and practice, at a later stage.

Option F: Re-write the MKD panel-specific guidelines as follows:

Remove the phrase “and Māori methodology’ as a criteria for submission to the MKD panel on the basis that this concept is subject to various possible interpretations and so cannot serve a clear criterion;

  1. Ensure that any unique aspects of Māori research are acknowledged.

The TEU supports the option F1 which proposes removing reference to ‘Māori methodology’ as a submission criterion for the MKD panel.”  Kaupapa Māori approaches to research are an emerging development, and as with any area of research should not be limited by one particular methodology.”  It is vital that Māori researchers and indeed any other researcher are able to continuously evolve and develop their thinking in regards to any aspect of their work.”  Including reference to ‘Māori methodology’ implies there is only one approach to Māori-focused research which may be limiting for the development of new thinking and new works.In regards to F2, we support guidelines that highlight what may be viewed as common features of kaupapa Māori research, however we would be hesitant to support any that seek to define particular aspects as unique to this field of research.”  We see this as potentially limiting as in F1 above.

Rather than using the phrase “Ensure that any unique aspects of Māori research are acknowledged” this point could be re-written to include concepts such as:

  • acknowledging the validity and legitimacy of Māori research, including the importance of te reo me ona tikanga Māori;
  • be imbued with Māori philosophies and ideologies; and,
  • acknowledge the unique journeys of each individual, whānau, hapūand iwi.
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