Academic defends quality of Māori and Pacific researchers' work

5:24 pm on 5 July 2021

An academic says the suggestion, that changing a major research fund to favour Māori and Pasifika academics will dilute it, is disgusting.

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Some people in positions of power in the research sector are holding on to the past, an academic says. Photo: 123rf

The $315 million-a-year Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF) will now give matauranga Māori research a funding weighting of 3 - higher than the current 2.5 which applies to the most expensive sciences.

It is part of an effort by the government to tackle long-standing under-representation of Māori and Pacific researchers.

But Universities New Zealand chief executive Chris Whelan said he wanted a dedicated fund devoted to Māori and Pasifika research instead.

Post-doctoral fellow at Auckland University Tara McAllister said that suggestion was completely out of touch.

"I think the idea that Māori and Pacific research and researchers are going to dilute the excellence of the [fund] is just quite frankly disgusting," she told Midday Report.

"Māori and Pacific researchers are excellent in ways that I think some of our current research leaders can't quite comprehend."

She said structural change was needed in order to address the inequities faced by Māori and Pacific researchers.

"Lots of the people who are currently in positions of power in our research sector are just really holding on to the past, and it comes down to the fact that when you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression," McAllister said.

"I think that really stops us from getting anywhere or seeing any transformational change because these people in positions of power are holding these fundamentally flawed views about our research sector."

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