March 13, 2023

He Mahi Tirohanga – Māori Research Capacity and Capability Building

He Mahi Tirohanga – Māori Research Capacity and Capability Building

Whakauae Researchers:

Dr Amohia Boulton, Dr Tanya Allport

Independent Researchers:

Teresa Taylor, Ema Tu’akoi

Start/Finish Dates:

June 2022 – October 2026


Whakauae has a long history of supporting and building Māori student development and emerging researchers and leading new Māori researchers in the field of Māori and Indigenous research. Our scholarships have been awarded to students at Undergraduate, Masters, Doctoral and Post-Doctoral levels and are tailored to the needs of the student as well as contributing to Whakauae’s vision of transforming Māori lives through excellent research. Bespoke in nature, in offering these scholarships we seek to cater to the holistic wellbeing needs of each recipient.  However, despite our intentions, we may not have always got things right and with this in mind, and having secured further IROC (Independent Research Organisation) funding from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, we undertook a piece of reflective work, looking back on past experiences in order to progress further forward.  We not only want to be more strategic and aspirational in developing a long-term vision for how to support capacity and capability building for Māori research, but ensure that each individual student who spends time at Whakauae leaves with greater insight into the role of research can play in  supporting our communities to flourish.

The project seeks to identify specific facilitators and barriers, regarding access, types and delivery of Māori student supports, for Māori health and wellbeing research outside the academy.  Recommendations for the on-going nurturing of Māori students will also be identified.

The first-hand accounts of Māori student experiences will be utilised to inform, strengthen, and improve the provision and delivery of the Whakauae Māori research capacity and capability building support that is currently on offer.


2022 saw the establishment phase of the project, with the shaping of research tools and the application for ethics approval both to the New Zealand Ethics Committee - Te Roopu Rapu i te Tika, and Ngāti Hauiti. The aim of the research project around Māori student capacity and capability building also involved the intentional participation of a Māori student, therefore in mid-2022 Ema Tu’akoi  (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa; Ma’ufanga, Holonga Tongatapu) joined the research team as a winter student to work on a literature review of the topic of Capacity and Capability Building of the Māori Research Workforce. The review, completed in November 2022, highlighted that while there is a noticeable gap in current research that is specifically focused on building the capacity and capability of the Māori research workforce in Aotearoa, there are some emerging high-level themes around ongoing racism, barriers and enablers within and academic context and a research context. These themes have been considered alongside the primary data that has emerged from interviews with past recipients of Whakauae support, ranging from scholarships to internships, to ascertain  what is needed to support potential Māori research candidates from the ground up. With the first round of analysis complete, the research team are now busy writing up the results for submission to an international journal, as well as the creation of another more general engagement on the topics within a media platform. Furthermore, the literature review is being edited for publication in Te Pūtake Whakauae Raro -  Whakauae’s occasional paper series, so keep an eye on the publication page here in the coming months.

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