Māori at Otago
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Frequently Asked Questions

General/Māori Strategic Framework (MSF)

Who’s who on campus? And how do I find out who to contact to answer my questions?

There are various ‘pou’ at the University. The Office of Māori Development (OMD) is responsible for Māori strategic development and the management of the University’s Treaty partnerships; Te Huka Mātauraka (the Māori Centre) provides advice, support and guidance to tauira Māori (Māori students) enrolled at the University; Te Tumu (the School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies) is an academic department and special stakeholder in the Division of Humanities; Kaiāwhina Māori exist in most academic divisions and many departments to give support to Māori students in their respective areas;

Tell me about the Māori Strategic Framework. Who can I contact to find out more, and when and best way of contact?

The Māori Strategic Framework (MSF) was developed in 2007. Staff in the OMD oversee the implementation of the MSF and manage the allocation of Equity Funding in alignment with the goals and priorities of the Framework. Janine Kapa, Acting Director, is your first point of contact if you want to find out more, have specific questions about Māori development at Otago or need assistance with planning.

I need to draft up a plan/process etc. Who can I ask about bringing a MSF focus to this?

While the OMD’s role is to oversee the MSF and its implementation, your Divisional Office is the first point of contact to find out what the division’s response to the MSF is and determine whether or not a specific plan exists. Otherwise, feel free to contact Janine Kapa, Acting Director of OMD; one of her main functions is to support the implementation of the MSF across the institution.


How do I know when it's appropriate to open a meeting with a karakia or mihi? And when should I use one or the other?

There are number of things you may want to consider before proceeding: Does the meeting have a specific Māori kaupapa (Māori agenda or focus)? Will there be attendees representing the local iwi or Māori community? Is it expected of you in terms of your role? Is it something you want to lead in your area? After considering the answers to some of these questions and deciding to go ahead, remember that you need to be comfortable with and understand what you are saying, along with the reason for doing so. Remember, a karakia is, where relevant, often used to start and finish meetings/hui and to bless kai (food, if provided) and mihimihi is a greeting to welcome attendees and a round of introductions to ensure participants are aware of ‘who’s who’ at the meeting.

New process for applying for Mihi Whakatau or Pōwhiri

We have simplified the process for staff to request a Mihi Whakatau (welcome speech) or Pōwhiri (ritual of encounter, marae-based); an application can now be made online at: http://maori.otago.ac.nz/reo-tikanga-treaty/mihi-whakatau

Requests must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the event. On receipt of your application, you will be sent an automated response; 48-hours following, a staff member will be in contact to confirm availability and firm up arrangements. Karawhiua!


Is it ok for non-Māori to do a mihi or karakia?
What if guests at a meeting are Māori, what to do then? What’s the correct protocol?

Of course, but it would pay to check whether or not there are any proficient speaks of te reo Māori in attendance (or representatives of the local iwi or Māori community) who may prefer to lead this before leaping in; this can be done discreetly by asking before the meeting starts. While we may want to leap in with a newly learnt karakia or *mihi, humility is both acknowledged and appreciated in Te Ao Māori; it is important, as a ‘teina’ (younger sibling, or in this context, a new learner), to know one’s place. If however you are given the mandate to lead, by all means do so with the blessing of those present.

Who do I ask for advice if I am not sure about the correct protocols?

Check with either your Māori colleagues or colleagues who are deemed to be learned in this area, including the Kaiāwhina Māori in your area. Failing this, feel free to also contact the OMD; Mark Brunton, Research Manager Māori, is your first point of contact in the OMD for advice on tikanga Māori.

What happens if everyone introduces themselves in Māori but I can’t? Is that ok? What should I do or say? What’s an appropriate ‘methodology’ to introduce myself?

This is definitely ok! While some effort is valued, it is important that your pronunciation is spot on and the sentence structures are accurate; if you’re unsure, best leave it until you feel more confident that this is the case. Do however introduce yourself in English (or your own language, if different) in terms of where you are from, where you were perhaps born, something about your family, local connections etc. see here for examples. In Te Ao Māori we tend to introduce ourselves through our links to the land and people before us, which includes our tribal affiliations and significant landmarks.

I’m Māori but don’t know my whakapapa – how do I find out? What should I do if I feel whakamā (shy) about this?

Staff at Te Huka Mātauraka, the Māori Centre on Castle St will be able to help you find out more about your whakapapa, either by way of information, advice or a referral to someone else who might know. There is no need to feel whakamā about not knowing where you are from ancestrally; remember, every journey has a beginning!

Te Reo

I’m not a language person – is it ok if my pronunciation is not great to try to say something in Māori?

Yes, but it is important that you get some assistance from a proficient speaker of te reo Māori to help you build your capability. Fluent speakers of any language appreciate every effort someone makes to ensure their pronunciation and sentence structures are accurate; speakers of te reo Māori are no exception! Remember too that YOU need to feel comfortable with and understand what you intend to say, as well as your reasons for doing so; this will also help to develop your confidence. As they say, practice makes perfect!

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