Te Wānanga o Raukawa

Hohaia Collier

E kore au e ngaro he kaakano i ruia mai i Rangiātea
Te Kaūrutanga
He rei ngā niho, he paraoa ngā kauae

Our graduation ceremony in December 2015 was a significant event in the life of the wānanga as we celebrated the graduation of the first recipient of the wānanga’s highest qualification on offer — Te Kāurutanga. This doctoral/post-doctoral level qualification is unique to Te Wānanga o Raukawa. The recipient was Hohaia Collier of Ngāti Porou and Te Whānau-a-Apanui descent. Hohaia is currently the pou akoranga at Te Wānanga o Raukawa, the role of which is to lead, direct and develop the academic activity of the Wānanga.

It has been many years since the idea of Te Kāurutanga first emerged in the mid 1990s. It is a natural follow on from the Poutuarongo Mātauranga Māori and the Tāhuhu Mātauranga Māori. The qualification was devised by former tumuaki Whatarangi Winiata, assisted by a former director of the Master of Mātauranga Māori programme (now known as Tāhuhu Mātauranga Māori), Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal. The title ‘Kāurutanga’ is taken from the word ‘kāuru’ which describes the highest point of a tree.

The Wānanga’s expectations of potential students seeking this qualification are
me pakeke te mōhio ki te reo Māori (excellence in te reo Māori both oral and written)
kia mau hoki te tangata i ngā kōrero mō te mātauranga (knowledgeable in mātauranga Māori and proven ability to grow that mātauranga).

While this qualification is offered at doctoral or post-doctoral level, there has always been great reluctance to refer to it as a doctorate. Te Wānanga o Raukawa prides itself on

  1. its distinctiveness and
  2. its insistence that mātauranga Māori belongs to te iwi Māori (as evidenced in its absolute refusal to participate in the Crown’s performance based research fund) and not to any institution.

To be awarded the te kāuru tohu the student must engage in a significant research project (whakatupu mātauranga) of their choosing, have the support of their iwi via a supervisory panel of acknowledged hapū/iwi experts and must report periodically to ngā purutanga mauri of Te Wānanga o Raukawa.

The qualification has no accredited status with NZQA and attracts no government funding. The former is of the Wānanga’s choosing. Te Kāurutanga is, and must remain, distinctive to Te Wānanga o Raukawa. That aside, the Wānanga is of the view that discussions need to be conducted with the Crown about the status of the qualification, and its entitlement to funding, but with the Crown being made aware that they have no property interest in Te Kāurutanga.

I asked Hohaia if he would be willing to share his experiences of this latest chapter in his academic life, to which he wholeheartedly agreed. The following is a question and answer conversation that we engaged in early in January 2016.

Why did you decide on Te Kāurutanga rather than a widely recognised doctorate?
Apart from an undergraduate degree from an overseas university, all of my tertiary study has been done here at Te Wānanga o Raukawa. Professor Winiata posed the challenge and I took it up. What was really appealing to me was that supervision, examination and conferral was done by Māori scholars. That meant a lot to me.
How/why did you decide on your topic?
My military background and interest in genealogy. I wanted to try and relate my career as a soldier to the ancient practices of significant ancestors in their preparation for entry to the whare tū tauā (the training wānanga for warriors). I had gone through a ceremony before I joined the Army in 1972 but the significance of that ceremony took on greater meaning for me when I began work here in Ōtaki, especially doing the Master of Mātauranga Māori.
How long did it take?
It took me four years to complete the research and writing. As one of the first two to undertake the programme, it was a case of just making the time while holding down a full-time job. I had to commit two hours every morning before work started then as long as I could stay awake at night, reading, cross-checking, making phone calls and sometimes just having quiet time. I was fortunate to be teaching occasionally at home on the East Coast so these were times for supervisor’s visits and interviews with kaumātua.
How does it feel to be the first graduate of this qualification?
To be honest, I was hoping that Ani Mikaere would finish before me so that the first graduate could come from Ngāti Raukawa. That would have been appropriate and really satisfying for me. Ani was my tutor for my Master of Laws and Philosophy and it was she who really changed the way that I think about our world. I feel very fortunate and very humbled by the ceremony of conferral. Some of my family came from the coast and they were very complimentary of the Ōtaki community. I slept with my taonga, a toki pou-tangata that night.
The only downside was that the graduation was postponed because of delays in the completion of the new conference centre. I had also been engaged in doctoral studies through the World Indigenous Nations University and completed that study just after the Kāurutanga. I had hoped to have the Kāurutanga conferred first but due to the delay, I received my Ph. D award in Canada in August with our Tumuaki there for support.
What obstacles were encountered?
Mainly time constraints. Being in full-time employment meant making time. While I had to travel 9-hours to get home it was worth it to have the sorts of conversations that I needed with elders. The Tumuaki was very generous in allowing me the time to write when I needed to make major inroads into the project.
What assistance was given?
There was always interest from Ngā Purutanga Mauri and it was more the interest and encouragement that was important rather than any tangible and material support. The programme is not funded by any Crown agency. It would have been nice to have had the sort of leave that is given to Ph.D candidates at universities and hopefully future Kāurutanga candidates will have greater support but it feels like everyone who knew what I was doing was very supportive.
What is the view of kuia and koroua of Ngaati Porou/Te Whaanau-a-Apanui towards the qualification and the achievement of it?
Well they were there at graduation and that says a lot about the programme. They are really supportive and excited about what the programme offers. They also feel honoured by Te Wānanga o Raukawa recognising them as scholars in their own rights. They are now considering who else might do the programme and what their kaupapa might be.
Will the thesis be widely available?
Yes! By its nature there are some sensitive areas that my people think should not appear in the published version so that relationships are maintained. This means that a bit of editing is being done.
What’s next?
Te Kāurutanga and specifically my kaupapa has indicated that there is an opportunity to pull together a lot of the unpublished material out there. I am looking at writing a book based on the exploits of my tīpuna, Tūwhakairiora and the classical period of Te Tai Rāwhiti history including the relationships between Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Te Whakatōhea and the related tribal groups in the Gisborne area.
Would you encourage others to pursue this qualification?
Yes, definitely as long as you are willing and have the determination to do so. Do it for the right reasons.
If so, do you have any advice for them?
Prepare yourself well, form the tight relationships you will need when the going gets tough, plan your journey and stick to the plan. You need to read widely and take notes, ensuring that everything is recorded and the appropriate citations and referencing attributed so that the mana of your sources is acknowledged. Enjoy the ride, if you don’t, things can get ugly really quickly.

Rere atu, rere mai taku manu e. Rere ki tua, rere ki kō kia whetūrangitia e.

Hohaia’s experience will without doubt assist future students of te kāurutanga and encourage them in their endeavours. The Wānanga looks forward to the future fruits of this qualification, through the benefits that it will bring to those who engage in it and to their respective whānau, hapū and iwi; and to wide recognition of its graduates by the national and international academic community.

Visit us at 144 Tasman Road, Ōtaki
Phone us at 0800 WĀNANGA
Visit our website at www.wananga.com
Email us at tetomonga@twor-otaki.ac.nz