I’ve talked a lot on this site about Mātauranga Māori (“MM”), the mixture of indigenous legend, practical knowledge, superstition, theology, and morality that is suddenly about to be injected into New Zealand science classes (both secondary school and college), with the intent of teaching it as a “way of knowing’ coequal with science. Because it’s ideologically incorrect to say anything against the founding population, I get a lot of letters from disaffected Kiwis who abhor the anti-progressive trend of making modern science coequal with a lot of ancient superstition. (I repeat once again that MM should certainly be taught in school sociology, history, and anthropology classes, but only the small bit of practical knowledge that MM comprises deserves a place in science.)
Anyway, I got hold of the future plans of one university, the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, which confirms the vow that two of its administrators recently took:: to make the whole university into an institution to teach MM and promulgate Maori “ways of knowing”. It is the wokest University of any school I know, for it has vowed that its mission is to adhere completely to the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi: a document guaranteeing rights to the Māori, But that’s not Waikato’s only goal: it’s not just equality or even equity this university wants, but to convert itself into a kind of academic iwi, a Māori group or tribe. Whatever its plans call for—and I have three planning documents—they’re not calling for building a real university. in the way we know it The university is to be decolonized and turned into an iwi, valorizing and teaching all things Māori.
First, here’s main strategy document for the next two years, which you can get as a pdf by clicking on the image:
This document isn’t as hard-nosed as the other two I’ll mention, but MM is a big part of it. A few goals (all bolding that isn’t italicized is mine):
1.) Embed mātauranga Māori into teaching, learning and the curriculum.
From “Taskforce Objectives”:
2. Ensure that academic appointment, advancement and promotion processes require staff to reflect on their engagement with mātauranga Māori, as well as recognising the wider knowledge and contribution that Māori and Pacific staff provide to scholarship at the University. . .
5). Provide support and opportunities for staff to engage with matauranga Māori within their areas of academic expertise, and to ensure that matauranga Māori is embedded as part of the curriculum.
This ideological/political/religious basis for promotion, appointment, and advancement is explicitly forbidden in places like The University of Chicago. All that matters, according to our Shils report, is research, teaching (including supervising grad students), service, and contributing to the intellectual community. Any considerations of gender, race, ideology, ethnicity, and religion are forbidden.
And the last paragraph:
The success of initiatives to recruit new and retain existing Māori and Pacific academic staff will determine our ability to provide appropriate leadership for the integration of Mātauranga Māori and traditional Pacific knowledge into the curriculum and our research programmes.
There’s a lot of embedding planned, but I must that 32% of students at this school are of Māori descent, the highest proportion of that ethnic group in any New Zealand university. But make no mistake: all NZ are going this route. The question is whether the curriculum must cater to the “way of knowing” of the ethnic group that is so prevalent, and to be infused into the science curriculum. Two-thirds of the students, after all, are not Māori.
Here’s the second document, the “research plan”. Click to read it:
Here’s their main research objective (emphasis is mine except for the bits in italics)
OBJECTIVE 1- INCREASE RECOGNITION, INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY, OF OUR WORLD-CLASS SCHOLARSHIP THAT REFLECTS OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD, AND IN TE AO MĀORI, AND GROW THE NEXT GENERATION OF RESEARCHERS RECOGNISED FOR THEIR ABILITY TO CREATE SUSTAINABLE FUTURES THROUGH LOCAL AND GLOBAL LEADERSHIP.
Scholarly excellence rooted in deep disciplinary expertise is the foundation upon which our research reputation rests. World-class scholarship means the excellence of our research is internationally-recognised and benchmarked. This does not mean the University’s research endeavours are only for the rest of the world, but must reflect our setting, our region, and our country, blending the perspectives of tangata whenua and tangata te Tiriti, as well as Pacific approaches and methodologies. Our unique opportunity, as we engage with the work-programme of the 2021 Taskforce, is to embed mātauranga throughout our researcher’s capabilities, treasure the input of Pacific knowledge systems, and celebrate the synergy with other approaches to science and knowledge generation. Recognising this opportunity, and working with it, will enable our research excellence to shine through.
. . . What will the University do to achieve this objective?
• Establish a process to identify and develop researcher capacity and capability in mātauranga Māori, and in Pacific research methodologies.
• Recognise a broader definition of excellence in our suite of annual research awards.
• Further develop specialist mātauranga competency among the professional staff supporting research, to deliver excellence in mātauranga.
. . . Pou Whaitake – Relevance operates at differing geographical scales: local, regional, national and international, and it encompasses our place in the world. Relevance means that mātauranga Māori, and Pacific knowledge systems cannot be separate from other approaches and methodologies, because we will benefit most when all are woven together to create synergy and space for all.
The above paragraph sounds good, but what does it really mean. How is one suppose to weave together the search for dark matter, or the nature of sexual selection, with MM? These are concepts developed outside that paradigm.
. .We are committed to implementing the recommendations of the Taskforce Report (2021) and to become an institution that rejects casual and systemic racism, honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and values mātauranga Māori. University-based research has evolved over centuries in the traditions of Natural Philosophy, as such we cannot simply “bolt on” Māori and Pacific knowledge systems and hope to gain value, whereas if we deliberately make space for mātauranga and Pacific approaches we can add depth and meaning to our research endeavours. As such, mātauranga Māori will be woven throughout the four pou of excellence, impact, relevance and resilience; and is an integral part of all five objectives in this Plan.
Once again the Treaty (“Te Tiriti”) and MM are virtually worshipped, and will be made ubiquitous. They’re not just “bolted on” to education, either, they are woven throughout every aspect of education.
This university aspires to world-class excellence, but seems to think that embedding MM throughout the school will “enable [their] research excellence to shine through.” It won’t because world-class research is beyond MM itself, though of course perfectly capable of being done by Māori. What is happening is that the University is cosseting its Māori students in an ethnic cocoon at the expense of their education. They’ll know a lot of MM, which they probably know already, but won’t be exposed to “non-Pacific knowledge systems” and therefore won’t acquire a parochial education. Now I’m not sure what balance needs to be struck between MM and “Western” or “Crown” knowledge, but you don’t see these research plans calling for the students to be exposed to the classics, to modern science, or much of the humanities. If you read this poorly written document, you’ll see it’s all about “achieving research excellence,” but it’s really obsessed with measuring research excellence. There’s a lot of talk of aspirations, but no concrete plan to realize those aspirations beyond infusing everything with MM.
Finally, here’s the Academic Plan (click on screenshot):
He Timatanga / Introduction
In recognising the importance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi and emābracing our motto Ko Te Tangata / For the People, diversity, equity and inclusion figure prominently in this Academic Plan. Teaching for diversity means acknowledging and working with all students’ lived experiences. Equitable teaching and learning is available to all, is fair and just. Inclusive teaching and learning happen in environments where everyone feels a sense of belonging, that are equally accessible for all, and are welcoming for all.’ In addition, the Plan acknowledges the important role that Māori, and also Pacific learners, teachers or educators, families and communities play in enhancing the mana of the University of Waikato. Pacific peoples have a rich history and tradition of knowledge and learning which the University is keen to harness in order to ensure our Pacific students flourish and excel.
Once again homage is paid to the principles of the 1840 Treaty, which says nothing about what is to be taught in schools. It’s being interpreted to mean “Māori principles will dominate and guide education at this university.”
And the PRIMARY academic objective:
OBJECTIVE 1 – EMBED MĀTAURANGA MĀORI INTO TEACHING AND LEARNING
I won’t translate this for you except to say that Aotearoa is the Māori word for “New Zealand”:
The University of Waikato, in committing to implementing recommendations in the Report of the Taskforce to become an institution that genuinely honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi, is not systematically or casually racist and that values mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge and Māori ways of knowing), has an opportunity to lead the way in this. Truly transforming our teaching, learning and curriculum in this manner will benefit tangata whenua as well as all students and staff, making the University of Waikato a welcoming, inclusive, forward-thinking, place to study and work. Tangata whenua as kaitiaki and as key educators are helping bring about greater cultural and environmental awareness. Some of our papers and programmes at Waikato already fully embed within them notions of kaitiaki and mātauranga. We all, however, need to commit to inspiring and supporting students to be guardians of our precious resources which will also help us advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. One of the principal outcomes recommended by the Report of the Taskforce is: “All staff and students enjoy enhanced academic experiences and results from the embedding of mātauranga Māori through existing teaching and research approaches”. Over the past few years, there has emerged within Aotearoa New Zealand’s universities and other research organisations a wider appreciation and integration of the important role mātauranga Māori plays in regards to understanding the world around us. This ought, where possible, to extend to teaching, learning – what we teach and how we teach it. This includes assessment because as the Report of the Taskforce (p. 29) notes, it is important to: “Establish alternative forms of assessment in addition to, alongside, or in place of written forms of assessment where suitable and effective (e.g. oral, creative practice)”.
And this is how they will do it:
What will the University do to achieve this objective?
• Develop and begin to implement professional development for all staff on Te Tiriti o Waitangi
• Begin work on establishing exactly what a mātauranga Māori approach to teaching, learning and curriculum might look like in different disciplines. In some subjects this work is well established, in others it is underway, in still others it is yet to begin. In reality, it is likely that mātauranga Māori will be more challenging to implement in some subjects than in others but conversations need to begin and steps taken towards this enhanced academic experience
• Develop and begin to implement professional development for colleagues on the principles and practices of mātauranga Māori in relation to teaching and learning
• Review ‘Cultural Perspectives’ papers to ensure the criteria and learning outcomes remain relevant and are achievable and to consider the relationship between existing Cultural Perspectives papers and future papers that will adopt or engage with a mātauranga Māori approach
Note that some subjects may be harder to “make over” with MM than others (try quantum mechanics or evolutionary biology, for instance) but made over they will be.
To enter into New Zealand secondary or tertiary education is to go down a rabbit hole where all values are upturned to adhere to the Treaty and to MM. If universities do this, so thinks their administrations as well as the Ardern government, they will take its place among the great educational institutions of the world. But everybody know that’s not true. In fact, secondary education in New Zealand has been in the dumper for years, and this new direction will just make it worse. Perhaps the government doesn’t realize that this will eventually redound upon New Zealand’s international rankings. Those who focus obsessively on Māorizing universities may not suffer, but eventually the Vice Chancellors of the schools will be held accountable.