Leonie Pihama receives US exchange for indigenous development

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(Radio NZ) A researcher who has looked at links between colonisation and Maori health and social statistics is off to the United States to see how Native Americans cope with similar issues.

Leonie Pihama has won the first Fulbright Scholarship organised in partnership with Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, the national centre for Maori research excellence. She will spend five months at the Indigenous Wellness Centre in Seattle, which is at the forefront of studying the impact of colonisation on indigenous people worldwide.

Researchers there are making connections between 500 years of colonisation and current issues like family violence, Ms Pihama told Waatea News.

There’s quite a core link being made now,” she says. “That’s the kind of work that we’re working towards here.”

This was one of three new exchange awards in the field of indigenous development offered under a new partnership between Fulbright New Zealand and Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, the award is offered annually to a New Zealand scholar who displays professional distinction, leadership skills and strong ambassadorial qualities and whose area of research or teaching fits within one of Nga Pae o te M?ramatanga’s research themes.

Dr Pihamas extensive research interests cut across all of the organisations major research themes which focus on families young and old, economic transformation and national identity.

She has a long history of involvement in Maori education, with involvement in Te Kohanga Reo, Maori language immersion units and kura kaupapa Maori.

Her current research involvement includes being co-investigator on a series of projects including: Maori priorities for life stage research: Hapu ora; Maori whanau experiences of neonatal intensive care units; He k?kano: Maori views and experiences of fertility, reproduction and Assisted Reproduction Therapies; and Understanding the pedagogy of school-based marae: a culturally responsive learning context in secondary schools.

Dr Pihama, in collaboration with Megan Tunks, recently completed the Waitakere site evaluation for the family violence focused Its Not OK Campaign and was principal investigator for the recently completed research report for Te Puni Kokiri on sexual violence and its impact on wh?nau M?ori.

Dr Pihama has been recipient of a number of academic awards including being a recipient of the Vice-Chancellors University Development Fund (University of Auckland) and holder of the Hohua T?tengaehe Post Doctoral Fellowship.

The Fulbright exchange programme (an initiative of Senator J. William Fulbright who believed that greater mutual understanding between different countries and cultures was crucial to ensure a peaceful future for the world) allows Dr Pihama to travel to the United States for a minimum period of three months.

Charles Royal, Director of Nga Pae o te Maramatanga and Fulbright alumnus says: “Nationally and internationally, indigenous development research is growing and New Zealand is providing significant leadership in this arena.

The benefit of such research to both indigenous and general communities is increasing in scale and significance.

This award enables an indigenous New Zealand researcher to once again engage with important indigenous development in a global sense and to gain insights and perspectives in the North American context. We wish Leonie every success in her endeavours.

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