National | Education

Historic graduation for Māori researcher at the University of Otago

Chanel Phillips (Ngāti Hine) has become the first doctoral graduand of Te Koronga, the Māori postgraduate research excellence group at The University of Otago.

At the first of the university’s Māori pre-graduation Te Heika Pounamu ceremonies today, Phillips was awarded a prestigious 'exceptional thesis' status in the sciences for her research.

Te Koronga co-director Dr Anne-Marie Jackson says, “Chanel exemplifies Māori research excellence in her level of scholarship and in who she is as a person.  She puts the aspirations of her communities at the centre of her research and is a seen face in the work she undertakes.

“Her research has contributed to thinking and applications in Māori water safety which is being taken up within her community groups, as well as changes in national policy.  She has a strong platform laid from the support of her whānau and she is able to navigate the various challenges of academia.  She has a long and successful career ahead of her.”

Dr Jackson continues, “We are working tirelessly to advocate for academic positions for Māori, as well as support our tauira in the next stages of their careers.  However, there are systemic issues in sciences and more broadly in Māori staffing within the New Zealand research system, as well as how we provide a culture change.

"We need to think carefully about how we can support our brightest talent, especially those who are committed to staying in New Zealand, working alongside Māori communities and wanting to contribute to our local issues.”

A total of five Māori postgraduate students graduated today.  All researchers have undertaken Māori research topics utilising Māori research approaches.

Chanel Phillips (Ngāti Hine), Doctor of Philosophy, A Journey to Belonging: Explorations of Māori Perspectives of Water Safety. Funded by Health Research Council.

Terina Raureti (Ngāti Raukawa), Master of Physical Education, Kia mārama ai te ihi, te wehi o Mukukai: The influence of swimming on whānau engagement with water.

Nikki Timu (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Kahungunu), Master of Physical Education, Māori perspectives on the use of haka within New Zealand sport.

Ben Hanara (Ngāti Kahungunu), Postgraduate Diploma of Physical Education, Mā te tai o Tangaroa, Mā te mauri o te wai. Tangaroa: Atua of human movement

Shane Witehira (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu), Bachelor of Physical Education (Hons), Mā te Whakapapa ka ora ngā Tauira Māori