Follow the money: matauranga Maori and the millions at stake

A lot of funding and influence is riding on the successful casting of indigenous knowledge as equal to science. GRAHAM ADAMS says the debate over the NCEA science syllabus is only the tip of an iceberg.

Anyone trying to get a grip on the mātauranga Māori debate over the past several months is likely to be completely puzzled by now.

The incendiary stoush was sparked last July by seven eminent professors stating in a letter to the Listener that indigenous knowledge is not science and therefore does not warrant inclusion in the NCEA syllabus as being equal to science.

Yet in the five months since the letter was published, virtually no one among those opposing the professors has argued convincingly that mātauranga Māori is scientific (even if some small elements of it could be called proto-science or pre-science).

On the face of it, the debate by now should have been declared a clear win for the professors and their supporters.   In rebuttal, their principal critics — including the Royal Society NZ, Auckland University Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater, the Tertiary Education Union and prominent Covid commentators Drs Siouxsie Wiles and Shaun Hendy — have not gone beyond asserting that  mātauranga Māori is a valuable and unique system of knowledge that is complementary to science.

This view is not contentious in the slightest — and was explicitly endorsed by the professors themselves in their letter. Continue reading “Follow the money: matauranga Maori and the millions at stake”

Henare grandstands about govt spending on housing – but the public’s trust in Labour to deliver the goods is slipping

Latest from the Beehive

One new government initiative aims to give a boost to the work done at a wananga based in Whakatane, another gives a boost to Maori housing in nearby Opitiki.

The Minister for Children, Kelvin Davis, joined with big-wigs at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi for the announcement of the establishment of the Tā Harawira Gardiner Endowed Chair and the Centre for the Child

Further along the road,  the Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing), Peeni Henare, had travelled to Opitiki for …

Well, it looks he was among the guests at a house-warming.

“It’s fantastic to be here in Ōpōtiki alongside the iwi Whakatōhea supported by the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board to celebrate the opening of this new home and the whānau moving into it,” Peeni Henare said.

The new home is one of five financed with support from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, which suggests there will be five house-warming opportunities for ministerial grandstanding and five opportunities for Henare to issue press statements like this one.

The government is collaborating with Maori tribes to deliver more homes to local families where supply is an issue. Continue reading “Henare grandstands about govt spending on housing – but the public’s trust in Labour to deliver the goods is slipping”

Fees-free policy perhaps attracted more voters to the polls than students to universities

The   irony  may  have  escaped   most of those  who  voted  Labour   in 2017.

Particularly   teachers (who reckon the  government is  penny-pinching  in  limiting  a pay offer to them  to  $700m  over four years).  No generosity  there — but   back  in   the days of the  election  campaign Labour  was   very generous   in  offering  free tertiary fees  for  first year  students.

So how  has that  worked  out?

Finance  Minister  Grant Robertson  revealed this week that in  his drive to cull  $1bn of low-priority spending, $200m  allocated    to  the fees-free  policy in the education vote, but not spent,  has been  transferred — but no, not  to  meet the  teachers’ demands.  It will be devoted to  reforms in  the  vocational  education  sector.  Continue reading “Fees-free policy perhaps attracted more voters to the polls than students to universities”

How the supernatural is being merged with science for Kiwi students

Defending a column he wrote for Stuff earlier this year, scientist and cartoonist Bob Brockie claimed there is no place for the Treaty of Waitangi in scientific endeavour. When several academic big-wigs challenged and chided him, he wrote in a subsequent column he was unrepentant.

The treaty is a political document and politics has no place in science which transcends nation, race, culture, and political perspectives”.

Moreover, Brockie challenged the merging of the humanities with science.  In the humanities, he contended, ambiguity is okay.

“There are few rules or laws – everybody can make up their own rules and laws. In science, ambiguity and the supernatural are anathema… As I see it, science and the humanities are parallel universes, each with different assumptions, motives, values, methods, standards and expectations. Very little traffic passes between these ideologies. What does travel is almost exclusively from science to the arts.”

Many science students nowadays nevertheless are being instructed in Matauranga Māori , or Māori knowledge, and the cultural and spiritual belief system in which it is grounded.   Continue reading “How the supernatural is being merged with science for Kiwi students”

Freedom of speechlessness – recollections of how another university buckled to the muzzlers

From a Guest Correspondent –

Discovering a collection of columns in The Times by the incomparable Bernard Levin in a secondhand bookshop provided a reminder that the debate over freedom of speech in the universities was raging in Britain more than three decades ago.

In a 1986 (December 1) column headed “Freedom of speechlessness“, Levin noted that the authorities in the University College of Cardiff had made a formal agreement with the students’ union which enshrined the right to deny a hearing to any speaker deemed “controversial“.

Levin wrote:

“If such a speaker is invited, the union will be officially allowed to wage an ‘orderly’ demonstration outside the hall. (In practice, of course, that means that the students will continue, as is the fashion, to bang and spit on the speaker’s car, to try to prevent him from getting into the hall, and to scream abuse at him.)

“When the meeting is about to start, the official demonstrators from outside are to officially enter the hall and take up official position. Should the speaker say something that displeases them, ‘official heckling’ will then begin, and if the speaker persists in saying things they do not approve of, they will then exercise their right, enshrined in the memorable words ‘chanting will take place’ to prevent him being heard.”

Continue reading “Freedom of speechlessness – recollections of how another university buckled to the muzzlers”