Māori financial independence research attracts prestigious scholarship

 University of Canterbury (UC) law lecturer Rachael Evans has been awarded an $80,000 scholarship for PhD research investigating how iwi can exercise rangatiratanga (sovereignty or autonomy) through the development of fiscal authority.

“Before colonisation, iwi and hapū with tino rangatiratanga were active political and economic entities making their own decisions according to their tikanga (law) and kawa (rules). They engaged in different forms of economic activity including agriculture, trade and warfare, but were economically self-sustainable,” she says.

UC law lecturer Rachael Evans (Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Pamoana, Pākehā) was one of five scholars to receive a scholarship from the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence. [Photo by University of Canterbury]

Colonisation imposed new systems and intergenerational poverty, which 35 years of Treaty Settlements has had mixed success in alleviating, says Evans. 

“Iwi and hapū accept State funding through Treaty Settlements, post-Treaty deals, or programmes such as Whānau Ora to participate in the economy and build up wealth and resources for their whānau. The tino rangatiratanga of iwi and hapū is impacted through this reliance on State funding.

“Arguably, iwi and hapū do not have autonomy, sovereignty or interdependence as they are economically limited, and their decisions and goals are at times, restricted by a lack of resources,” she says. “The development of fiscal authority, through for example, taxation, could help iwi and hapū to achieve their goals of rangatiratanga.”

Evans (Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Pamoana, Pākehā) was one of five women scholars to receive the scholarship from the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence.

Co-Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, Professor Kukutai says, “This is a stunning outcome for our Māori legal community. These five wāhine are incredible scholars, leaders, and changemakers. We are so pleased that the Borrin Foundation recognises that and has provided such generous financial support.”

A standout student, Evans has previously received a Ngāi Tahu Centre Doctoral Scholarship and support to travel to Canada to meet key First Nations leaders in the fiscal and regulatory authority space.

From a large whānau, she worked in retail to fund her studies and gained experience as a legal clerk and a solicitor before returning to UC to lecture, help embed mātauranga Māori into law education and serve as the Kā Waimaero | Ngāi Tahu Centre representative on Faculty.

“I think it’s important that people see that Māori can and do achieve in different ways. I also try and make myself available to Māori students including Te Putaiki, but also Pākehā who are interested in Te Tiriti and tikanga,” says Evans.

The scholarship enables Evans to carve out time for her research, and supports her to balance several roles, helped by “a very supportive partner and whānau, coffee, and a swim in the sea every day I can”.

The Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation 

The Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation was established in 2018 through a $38 million bequest by the late Judge Ian Borrin. It is a philanthropic organisation which supports legal research, education, and scholarship. The Foundation’s current strategic areas of focus are the criminal justice system, family law and access to civil justice.

Source : University of Canterbury / #StudyAwards

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