- Donna Grant, the former Executive Director of Manaakitanga Aotearoa Trust, appeared in the Rotorua District Court this week on a range of fraud related charges: (‘dishonestly using documents’, ‘obtaining by deception’ ‘creating a forged document’ and ‘using a forged document’). The charges follow a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation that alleges that Mrs Grant used her position within several organisations to fraudulently obtain funding from Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and the Tertiary Education Commission. Mrs Grant pleaded not guilty.
Further background: In 2014 the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Tertiary Education Commission released a report on complaints relating to educational provision by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. The report found a wide range of issues were presenting in numerous programmes areas, however a key matter was significant under-delivery of a tourism programme called ‘Hei Manaaki’. Manaakitanga Aotearoa Trust was subcontracted to deliver Hei Manaaki to the wānanga. Following the investigation, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi acknowledged significant errors, and repaid $5.9 million in funding to the Government. In addition, 217 qualifications were cancelled. In our opinion, these qualifications (awarded and then removed) were most likely to be largely or solely to Māori students.
Note: like all New Zealanders, we emphasise that Mrs Grant retains a presumption of innocence, unless proven guilty; i.e. these are allegations only.
- Seatbelt non-usage and fatal accidentsLast month a research report commissioned by the AA Research Foundation on seatbelt usage was released. It found that in fatal accidents in which a seatbelt was not worn, 35% of deaths were Māori.https://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Research/Documents/Mackie-Seat-belt-fatality-report-FINAL.pdf  The study is called, Vehicle Occupants not wearing a seatbelt – ‘An analysis of fatalities and traffic offences in New Zealand’. The research relates to the period 2012 to 2015.
- Māori Science Debate. This week MBIE lead scientists put out a shared media statement on Māori participation in science. They did this as since March the Royal Society of New Zealand / Te Apārangi and Otago University have been publicly criticised for matters relating to Māori interests in science. In broad terms, Te Apārangi has been criticised for using its Māori name and allegedly allowing the influence of the ‘arts / philosophy’ to impact on its other scientific endeavours. Otago University has been criticised for allegedly requiring consultation with Ngāi Tahu in all research areas. The complaint seems to be: science is hard facts, and should not yield to ‘cultural or philosophical views’, the Society does not need a Treaty of Waitangi statement, and Māori/iwi should not be in a position to overrule every item of research. (We note although written by a scientist, there is a bit of emotive language tied in, with phrases like ‘stone age nobodys’.) The reply is along the lines that there are many types of knowledge and science must be inclusive of all New Zealanders in order to maintain relevance. This debate will likely be of most interest to academic subscribers: the links are provided below.
“Research, science and innovation should be relevant to all New Zealanders. The context and challenges of all our citizens should be able to inform science, just as they inform other government business. Delivering benefits from science will require collaboration among multiple disciplines, and scientists to work with other perspectives, people and institutions to create change. To aggressively reject genuine societal views will not make science more “real” – it will make science irrelevant.” MBIE media extract.
- Professor Margaret Hyland, Chief Scientist, MBIE & Professor of Engineering, University of Auckland
- Dr Rob Murdoch, Departmental Science Advisor, MBIE & General Manager Research, NIWA
- Professor Hamish Spencer, Departmental Science Advisor, MBIE & Professor of Zoology, University of Otago
Appointments and Awards
- Jamie Tuuta (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama, Te Ati Awa & Taranaki Tuturu has been appointed chair of the Māori Television Board. Peter Jones (Ngāti Kahu, Te Rārawa, Ngāi Takoto & Te Aupōuri) has been appointed deputy chair.
- Jim Mather (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe) has been appointed chair of the Radio New Zealand Board.
- Ezekiel Raui (Te Rarawa), Diva-Ataahua Ratu (Ngāti Whatua), and Stevie Davis-Tana (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa) have been appointed to the Ministry of Youth Development Partnership Fund Board. The Partnership Fund Board will oversee investments in partnership with business and philanthropic sectors, iwi, and other funders to increase the capability and resilience of young people within their communities and whānau.
- Dr Moana Theodore (Ngāpuhi, Te Arawa) and Dr Jason Gurney (Ngāpuhi) have each been awarded a Māori Health Research Emerging Leader fellowship worth $500,000. The fellowships are for four years and are awarded by the Health Research Council and the Ministry of Health.
Dr Theodore’s research will look at the impact of education on the well-being of tamariki Māori and also the benefits of tertiary study for Māori university students.
Dr Jason Gurney’s research focus is to identify cancers which require the most urgent attention in terms of survival outcomes, and to determine the extent to which survival, quality of life and palliative care factors are modifiable for Māori patients with these cancers.
- Last week the 2018 University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards were held. The award winners were:
- Kauahi Ngapora (Ngāi Tahu, Waikato-Tainui) – Outstanding Māori Business Leaders Award;
- Rachel Taulelei (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Koata) – Māori Woman Business Leaders Award;
- Kendall Flutey (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu) – Young Māori Business Leaders Award;
- Whaimutu Dewes (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rangitihi) – Māori Governance Award;
- Maru Nihoniho (Ngāti Porou, Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāi Tahu) – Māori Entrepreneurial Leaders Award;
- Iwi Partnership Collective – Outstanding Māori Business Leadership Award (for organisations).