Young people aspiring to study Indigenous demography and data sovereignty, temporary migration, Pacific health equity and stuff like that might be tempted to check out what happens at an academic establishment called the University of Waikato’s National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis.
They might be steered to the institute’s website by googling “population studies NZ “. We quickly found it here.
But the clever people who run the institute have decided the institute’s name is too obvious. Or too functional. Or too prosaic.. Or too wordy. Or perhaps too colonialist.
They have gone into the rebranding caper and opted to call the institute Te Ngira.
A quick check with a Maori dictionary leaves us wondering about the reasoning.
- (loan) (noun) needle.
“Needle” (if we were to put that on the signage in English) might be good name for a Covid vaccination centre, perhaps.
But for a national institute of demographic and economic analysis?
But if we do it in te reo – then it’s Te Ngira.
Point of Order was steered to news of the rebranding on the University of Waikato website under the heading Kīngitanga proverb inspires new name for Te Ngira.
Here we learned:
The University of Waikato’s National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, commonly known as NIDEA, has rebranded to Te Ngira: Institute for Population Research.
Te Ngira means the needle in te reo Māori. The name was inspired by a well-known whakataukī (proverb) attributed to Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, a Waikato chief and the first Māori King.
“Kotahi te kōhao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro mā, te miro pango, te miro whero”.
This translates to “there is but one eye of the needle, through which white, black and red cotton must pass”.
The press statement introduces us to the Director of Te Ngira, Professor Francis Collins, who says King Pōtatau’s words and the Institute’s new name resonate strongly with his team.
“The multiple threads reflect our collaborative approach and the multiple knowledges, disciplines and methodologies we draw through the lens of population studies,” says Professor Collins.
The press statement further explains:
The name also underscores the important relationship that the University has with Waikato-Tainui and the Kīngitanga, and the centrality of the Institute’s research on Māori and Indigenous populations.
NIDEA began in 2010 as a collaboration led by the University’s Population Studies Centre, involving the Migration Research Group and Waikato Management School, as well as Wellington-based organisation, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust.
Today, the press statement says, Te Ngira is the leading national institute of demographic and population-focused research in this country.
Its researchers carry out world-leading research in the areas of Indigenous demography and data sovereignty, temporary migration and Pacific health equity.
Te Ngira’s four interconnected research platforms are Māori and Indigenous populations, population health and equity, migration and population change.
Its research is widely used by decision makers from government agencies, te ao Māori organisations, community groups and businesses.
Te Ngira is the only research institute in the country that offers a research-led major in Population Studies and graduate degrees in Population Studies and Demography. Graduates are highly sought after for academic iwi, government and NGO research and leadership roles.
The name change was not a rush-of-blood-to-the-head exercise.
The press statement says that as part of the rebranding process, the Institute consulted with Māori staff and consultants, and received the support and endorsement of the Kīngitanga.
Oh – and there’s a new logo. This depicts the three threads going through the eye of a needle. Once through the needle, the threads begin to grow and flourish.
The koru and mangopare symbols represent transformation and strength. The threads also take the shape of a person, and the centre red thread reflects the core intention of Te Ngira, which is people.
But the new name is so new it has not had time to catch on.
When we googled “population studies NZ”, the top listed results were these:
Population Studies – University of Waikato
Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Population Studies and …
The University of Waikato – Study in New Zealand
School of Population Health – The University of Auckland
Population Association of New Zealand – Te Roopu …
Introducing NZ’s eight universities
Population health and policy – Massey University
The New Zealand Family from 1840: A Demographic History
Population Studies – University of Waikato – Masters Portal
Just one thing, before we wrap up this post
If you google Te Ngira, you will find there’s another one.
Te Ngira Whānau is a space where you can come for support, and take action on harm in your community. We recognise that addiction doesn’t happen in isolation, so we connect organisations and services across the region to raise the overall hauora and wellbeing of our communities.
We develop strategies to reduce the harm from gambling across the communities of Auckland, through community events and advocacy. We also are involved with policy development so that we can take the voices and views of whānau directly to decision makers. This is important to ensure that our whānau can advocate for themselves and for their communities.
Perhaps the population-studies Te Ngira can persuade the other bunch to consider a rebranding.