Professor Poia Rewi will be giving his last ever seminar to Te Tumu as Dean of our School. Poia has been an inspiring leader of Te Tumu and, as most of you know, we are very sad that he will soon be leaving the university for greener pastures elsewhere.
It would be wonderful if you are able to come along to the seminar; if not, then his talk will also be live-streamed on Te Tumu’s Facebook page.
Poia Rewi (Ngāti Manawa, Tūhoe, Te Arawa, Ngāti Whare and Tūwharetoa) hails from Murupara in the Bay of Plenty. He migrated south from Waikato University to Te Tumu, the University of Otago’s School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies in 2003 to help boost our Māori-language teaching programme. He is an acknowledged master of te reo Māori, always teaching the advanced-level language classes. A noted composer in his own right, he also taught Te Tumu’s advanced kapa haka classes. Poia completed his PhD in 2005, written completely in te reo Māori.
He has always been popular with students as a teacher and supervisor, as willing to feed their bellies with his soups as their minds with his knowledge. He became the Dean of Te Tumu and full professor in 2016.
Poia is also a serious and respected researcher, with publications on te reo Māori, language revitalisation, tikanga Māori, Māori oratory and Māori history. Indeed his thesis, published in 2010 as Whaikōrero: The World of Māori Oratory by Auckland University Press, went on to win the Best First Book Non-Fiction Award in the 2011 New Zealand Book Awards.
Poia has always been a great innovator and collaborator. He helped develop AKI, an app to help learn Māori vocabulary with other Otago academics. He is also part of the team that came up with ZePA (Zero Passive Active), a model to advance the public’s attitudes and engagement with te reo Māori, and to promote Māori-language revitalisation, that is now used by a number of government agencies. Recently, Poia has worked with academics at Victoria and Auckland as a Co-Principal Investigator of Te Pae Tawhiti: Te Reo Māori, funded by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, looking at the value of te reo Māori in terms of the economy, cultural identity and social cohesion. This led to The Value of the Māori language: Te Hua o te Reo Māori, published by Huia in 2014, that won the Te Reo Māori category of Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards in 2015. Poia is currently Deputy Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, a position he will reluctantly have to leave behind for his new role in Wellington.
The revitalisation and advancement of te reo Māori have always been Poia’s passions. He was appointed to the board of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) in 2012, and in 2014 was seconded from the university to be their acting Chief Executive. Poia’s new role, starting next month, is also in a similar field, as Tumu Whakarae (Chief Executive) of Te Mātāwai, a government agency created to assist hapū, iwi and communities in the important task of Māori-language revitalisation.
Our loss will be the community’s gain. Poia has been an amazing example for us in Te Tumu and the University of Otago, as a person who lives and breathes tikanga Māori, as an inspirational teacher, a leader in research, as well as a colleague and friend in the academy. We will surely miss him.
Aroha mai! A belated roundup of Te Tumu research news.
In July we were treated to Poia Rewi’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture, held to celebrate his ascension to this tūranga rangatira within the university. The title of his talk was “Hoka : Motivators of Time”, a tour alongside Poia as he recounted his own academic journey, and his ZePA model of developing positivity around the use of te reo Māori. This was well attended by Poia’s whānau, staff and students, as well as many from the community, and was capped off with haka, waiata and karakia. The lecture can now be viewed on ITunes U.
In July Te Tumu were privileged to host Professor Michael Harkin as a William Evans Fellow. Professor Harkin, a cultural anthropologist and inaugural editor of Ethnohistory, gave several talks: a public lecture “The Trump at the End of the World: Monsters and Marvels in our Parlous Age”, in which he brought his knowledge of societies past and present together, and a departmental seminar, “‘The Emotional Archive’: The case of Residential Schools in Canada”, in which he examined ‘the relative lack of negative narratives [he] elicited…during fieldwork in British Columbia in the 1980s–2000s’, while also exploring ‘various forms of social memory, proposing the notion of an “emotional archive” that contains non-narrative memory traces’.
It is always great when our students gain their postgraduate degrees, after months or years of working on, and writing up their research. We had three such students graduating this August: Sandra Spence (Pākehā) and Raaniera Te Whata (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau a Apanui, Airihi) with the Master of Indigenous Studies, and Gianna Leoni (Ngāti Kurī, Ngāti Takoto, Itariana) with a PhD.
Dr Lyn Carter supervised Sandra, whose research was on “Kāi Tahu Chinese Unions and Identity in Otago and Southland/Murihiku”; Associate Professor Merata Kāwharu supervised Rāniera (“Tautoro, tū te ao, tū te pō (The endurance of Tautoro heritage): Investigating challenges and opportunities”); Professor Poia Rewi and Associate Professor Lachy Paterson supervised Gianna (“Mā te Taki te Kāhui Ka Tau: Te Waiaro ki te Reo Māori i ngā Hinonga Kāwanatanga”) who wrote her thesis in te reo Māori. Gianna is teaching MAOR312: Te Māhuri 2 this semster.
“Nōku te korikori” is a new initiative to help promote and normalise te reo Māori on campus, based on the ZePA model.
Developed by researchers Professor Poia Rewi, Dean of Te Tumu, and Professor Rāwinia Higgins (former Te Tumu staff member and now Head of School of Māori Studies at Victoria University), ZePA stands for Zero->Passive->Active, in which individuals might “right-shift” to a more active use of te reo Māori. The principles behind this model are explored in the book, The Value of the Māori Language: Ngā Hua o te Reo Māori.
“Nōku te korikori”, spear-headed by Tangiwai Rewi, the coordinator of Te Tumu’s Māori Studies programme, encourages learners and speakers of te reo Māori to don distinctive wristbands so that other learners and speakers can easily identify people who are receptive to a kōrero i roto i te reo rangatira. For full details check out this Otago Bulletin article.