International indigenous scholars give global perspective

Monday 30 April 2012, 3:07PM
By Massey University

Indigenous scholars Dr Tina Ngaroimata Fraser and husband Charles may be based in Canada, but their experiences resonate with Massey University Māori Studies students.

The couple spent two days at the University last week, giving two lectures and engaging with Massey masters and PhD students and Te Rau Whakaara and UCOL staff.

Dr Fraser is a Maori scholar teaching at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and her lecture centred on her building capacity for First Nations (aboriginal peoples in Canada), Maori and Indigenous Knowledge forums in postgraduate studies at UNBC.

Charles Fraser, a social worker at Prince George Youth Forensic Psychiatric Services, gave insight in youth forensics, psychiatric services and intergenerational trauma suffered by First Nations people.

Te Putahi-ā-Toi (School of Māori Studies) Professor Taiarahia Black says it was a privilege to connect with world Māori/indigenous scholars supporting indigenous advancement. “Our international visitors are here to share experience, knowledge and scholarship,” he says. “But what was nice was they confirmed that research direction must reflect Māori world views.”

Professor Black says the visit supports the University’s Road to 2020 objectives and brings a forum of new ideas. “Certainly the two speakers have inspired our masters and PhD students, it keeps them going. The students find someone who’s 14,000km away, and all of a sudden there’s a link to build, and they can keep building the platform of knowledge, scholarship and experience.”

Dr Fraser, who is an Assistant Professor and the Aboriginal Education Coordinator with the School of Education at UNBC, says visits to New Zealand help her maintain her identity, support Māori and is a learning experience. “I’m not coming here as the expert, I’m coming here to gain new knowledge myself.”

The visit prompted discussions on strengthening dialogue, supporting postgraduate student exchanges, and brought a global indigenous perspective to the students. It also further strengthened links between the universities, which already have a memorandum of understanding agreement.

Sharna Te Hau, who is working towards a Diploma in Te Reo and looking to start her master’s, says meeting and being mentored by Dr Fraser gave her new ideas and new perspectives.

“I’m excited, for me it’s been eye-opening to see how connected we are to the indigenous people of Canada, and how similar our pasts are; that our cultural sources can provide a contribution to their and our knowledge.”

Mr Fraser also met with Highbury Whānau Centre Youth Services, and Social Services Alternative Education staff Kirsty Chapman and Anj Butler, to discuss sharing successful frameworks, models and opportunities to work with high-risk youth.

Professor Black says discussions have also been floated with Massey, the Canadian visitors and Highbury Whānau Centre Youth Services about a world Māori\Indigenous Youth conference to bring together young leaders to plan for the future.