Indigenous | Hapū (pregnant)

Scholar's award to help her revitalise indigenous birthing knowledge

A PhD candidate working on the revitalisation of traditional indigenous birthing knowledge and practices is heading to the US to further her studies.

Nikki Barrett (nee Haereroa, nō Ngāti Hauā', Ngāti Porou) from the University of Waikato, is this year's recipient of the Fulbright-Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga Graduate Award, which allows her to spend almost a year with various health professionals, communities and academics in the US who work in Indigenous health traditions and practices.

"I never thought I would ever be deserving of something so awesome like this," Barrett said while speaking with teaomā today.

“I didn’t even tell my supervisors I had applied because there are so many other tauira out there with amazing kaupapa.

“This tohu, for me, shows that other people recognise how important the kaupapa is, not just for my whānau, hapū and iwi but for te ao Māori as a whole. It’s very surreal.”

Her motivation for wanting to do this mahi stems from seeing negative indigenous statistics in mainstream media being their main focus.

“But there are some amazing stuff happening around Aotearoa that are not highlighted. I’m like, ‘why do wāhine not know about this wonderful class?’ That’s where I want to go and figure out how we make this a space where we can make it better known.”

While spending some time at Fulbright’s ceremony and orientation, despite being nervous about meeting the others, Barrett says she’s now become whānau with the other students.

“The calibre – there’s some amazing people doing amazing things and it’s really awesome to see the indigenous whānau as well. Māori, Pacific, it’s phenomenal. “

Barrett is yet to confirm where she will travel to inside the United States, as she leaves in March next year. She has made, however, a “dream list” of locations to engage with community organisations that are in Alaska and Hawai’, where there are “amazing things happening in the hapū space”.