Plan to boost Maori academic staff numbers

Tangiwai Rewi. Photo: Supplied
Tangiwai Rewi. Photo: Supplied
Boosting Maori academic staff numbers at the University of Otago will be looked at with urgency in the coming months, one of the leaders of a network set up to support them says.

Te Tumu School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies senior lecturer Tangiwai Rewi has taken over as co-chairwoman of Te Poutama Maori staff network at the University of Otago along with Dr Diane Ruwhiu, replacing law faculty professor Jacinta Ruru.

Following news items this year about the low number of Maori staff at New Zealand universities, increasing numbers was something the network would be looking at either late this year or early next year.

Fewer than 6% of the university's academics are Maori, while at the last census Maori made up about 15% of New Zealand's population.

From the time the network was set up, about 10 years ago, the low number of Maori academic staff at Otago was something that had been of concern, Ms Rewi said.

"We've got to have a robust discussion about what we'll do with that."

It had been a decade since the network was set up to support staff, and it was time to do a "quick stocktake" of what it had accomplished.

The university has said it supports population parity for Maori academic and professional staff.

Mentoring young people and encouraging them to take up leadership in the university was one of Ms Rewi's objectives.

She also said while the role of an academic was 40% teaching, 40% research and 20% service, that was often increased "exponentially" for Maori staff who had links to their local iwi, which was Ngai Tahu in Dunedin.

It could include attending hui or tangi, which led to enhanced networks with local people, Ms Rewi said.

"You really can't avoid those, because it's part of your make-up and who you are. You're a part of your institute, but you're also a part of your people."

Being part of Te Tumu meant lecturers were meant to be the "seen face" of the university on official occasions such as hui or celebrations, outside working hours, as well.

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