New Zealand conference discusses Indigenous Development

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New Zealand conference discusses Indigenous Development

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In May I found out about the 5th Biennial International Indigenous Development Research Conference being held at the University of Auckland, 27-30 June 2012. The aim was to highlight indigeneity and the multidisciplinary approach used for indigenous development. Presentations and papers addressed all aspects of the following themes central to the realisation of indigenous development:

  • Optimising Indigenous Economic Wellbeing
  • Healthy and Thriving Indigenous Families
  • Enhancing Indigenous Distinctiveness

In June, I had the privilege to travel to Auckland, New Zealand to participate in that four day conference.

Me @ Viaduct Basin, Auckland City (Photo by a conference attendee)

Me @ Viaduct Basin, Auckland City (Photo by a conference attendee)

Background to Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland in the North Island of New Zealand is the largest city in New Zealand with over a quarter of the nation’s population living there (Auckland’s population reached 1.5 million persons in early 2012). The Indigenous people of the Auckland area are from the Ngati Whatua iwi. Auckland is the warmest and sunniest city in New Zealand with an average of 2060 hours of sunshine per year and an average monthly high of about 23°C in February and down to about 14°C in July.

International Indigenous Development Research Conference 2012

5th Biennial International Indigenous Development Research Conference gave an opportunity for researchers to come together and talk about their indigenous research within an indigenous conference setting. More than 400 people attended from around the world sharing their experiences and aspects of their cultures. Some came from as far north as Alaska and Norway while others came from relatively closer South like Australia and the Pacific nations.

The University Marae (meeting house), Waipapa at the University of Auckland

The University Marae (meeting house), Waipapa at the University of Auckland

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the presentations which were focusing on building excellent indigenous research capability. Of the more than 100 presenters I was surprised that only a handful of presentations were related to this and that the majority of these were related to building excellent indigenous research capability in the form of indigenous PhD graduates. I endeavoured to inform those presenters of the work being done by Charles Darwin University’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods through the Aboriginal Research Practitioners’ Network (ARPNet) to strengthen and support community based Indigenous research practitioners’. I did this by approaching the speakers after their talks, asking if there were expressions of interest from local people involved in their projects to do research and offered them copies of the ARPNet poster prepared for the 18th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management Conference.

It seemed to me that the voices calling for strengthening indigenous research capacity of local research practitioners had very limited representation at this particular event. The next biennial International Indigenous Development Research Conference is planned for 2014, again in New Zealand. I hope ARPNet will be able to participate and have opportunities to share its experiences more formally.

Welcome luncheon, University of Auckland

Welcome luncheon, University of Auckland

Acknowledgements and thanks

Thanks to ARPNet members and its supporters who tirelessly push the interests of Indigenous people to grow stronger as research practitioners’. Thank you for the help from Charles Darwin University’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods staff, Prof. Andrew Campbell, Dr Natasha Stacey, Prof. Owen Stanley and Ms Roanne Ramsey. A special thanks to Dr Bev Sithole for her devoted mentorship to me over many years, I cherish our bond.

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