Ngā Wai a Te Tūī, Unitec’s Kaupapa Māori & Indigenous Research Centre, has partnered with five urban South Auckland marae on a ground-breaking research project to explore and support their aspirations to strengthen their communities. The launch of the research was marked with a special memorandum of understanding signing ceremony at Unitec’s Te Noho Kotahitanga marae.
The three-year research project, known as MOKO - Marae Ora, Kāinga Ora - is led by Ngā Wai a Te Tūi Director, Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan (Waikato-Tainui), who says the aim of the research is to work with marae to explore their respective and collective aspirations, and investigate ways to best support and implement these strategic designs for the well-being and sustenance of the marae and their communities.
The marae participating in the MOKO project are: Papakura Marae; Manurewa Marae; Makarau Marae; Mataatua Marae; and Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae. Each marae is quite different and serve a large proportion of the Māori community in the South Auckland area, so the research has the potential to have a huge impact for the marae and their surrounding communities.
At the signing ceremony, a representative from each marae spoke about the reasons they’re participating in the project and what they are hoping to achieve.
Papakura marae CEO Tony Kake said their marae has 62 employees, but no resource available to do research. He is looking forward to walking alongside the researchers, to tell the story of their urban marae, and create more ‘happy days’ for their community.
“Our marae had humble beginnings but we have big aspirations for our community. Kainga is not about the walls and beams, it’s about the hopes and dreams.”
Baari Mio, Deputy Chairperson of Ngati Awa Mataatua Marae, said she felt honoured and privileged to be part of the research Kaupapa.
“Although our marae holds the name of Ngati Awa, our role is to serve our community as a whole,” she said.
Professor Lee-Morgan said that MOKO is focussed on the sustainability of the marae, so they can flourish in their respective kainga.
“Marae have always adapted to new contexts throughout the ages, and are often the first to help in times of crisis. We’d like to hear from the people within those marae, and help them to work on implementing plans to address their priorities,” said Professor Lee-Morgan.
The research team from Ngā Wai a Te Tūī will be joined by Marae Research Coordinators at the five marae, who will help to bring a unique perspective and input from each marae community.
“Kaupapa Māori research projects require us to work with whanau, hapū, iwi and communities in lots of different ways, ultimately in Māori centred ways. For us, the inputs are as important as the outputs, we’re all on this journey together with an understanding that collaborative research must be beneficial to our marae, our whānau and communities,” added Professor Lee-Morgan.