Graduation is always the culmination of a lot of hard work. At last week’s graduation, we had our latest graduate, Margaret Courtney, walk across the staff to collect her hard-earned Masters of Indigenous Studies degree certificate. Margaret, of Te Arawa (Tūhourangi,
Ngāti Whakaue, and Tapuika), also holds an LLB from Waikato University, and works as a Regional Advisor for Te Puni Kōkiri. I asked her to send me a short account of her studies, and the abstract of her research dissertation. Koia kei a koe, Margaret!
“My journey to complete my Masters qualification was a journey of personal growth, perseverance and enlightenment. Combining my experience of Whenua Māori, the Native Land Court system and integrating it with the history of our tūpuna and iwi has helped to fill knowledge gaps for my whānau. Given our ‘nuclear family’ upbringing my research emphasised the importance of Whenua Māori as a connection to our tūpuna but also strengthens our Whānau Mātauranga. It is this knowledge that we can pass onto our tamariki and mokopuna.
“The Master of Indigenous Studies programme at Te Tumu was the best option for me given I live and work in Rotorua. It provided a part time online option which complimented by mahi and lifestyle. The paper offerings provided choice and completing the dissertation cemented my learnings. I enjoyed the mixed forms of delivery and assessments.
“I am thankful for the support and patience of my supervisor Dr Paerau Warbrick. He provided good advice, steered me on track when needed, and helped me to extend my knowledge and research skills. Ka nui te mihi ki a koe, e whānaunga! To my whānau, your continued support is unwavering!”
This research supports the view that whenua Māori is important in today’s global environment and remains a vital connection to our tūpuna, our iwi and our whānau history.
This is illustrated through an exploration of the author’s connection to Tūhourangi, an iwi of Te Arawa, the impact that the Native land legislation had on Tūhourangi and specifically the whenua, Rotomahana Parekārangi in the nineteenth century. The research explores the path of Rotomahana Parekārangi through the Native Land Court regime. The research concludes with an example of how the author’s whānau are making attempts to transmit their collective whānau mātauranga to the younger members of their whānau. This is in order to provide the whānau with experiences of the whenua, of their iwi and to understand the importance of their connection to the whenua derived from their tūpuna. It is important that the younger generation are cognisant of these connections and whānau mātauranga as, in time, they will become the kaitiaki of the whenua, and will need to pass this knowledge onto their mokopuna.