What is Māori Studies?
Reilly, Michael PJ (2008) What is Māori Studies? University of Otago.
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Sid Mead once described Māori Studies as ‘the uncomfortable science’. Uncomfortable because its place within the university was often questioned by Pākehā scholars, while those who worked within the subject remained uneasy about their own position within the western university system (Mead 1997:32). This uncomfortable tone has not yet disappeared. For example, at the Māori Studies Subject Conference held at Waikato University in 2007 some participants openly questioned whether the subject had any future. Such existential anxiety indicates to me that asking the question, What is Māori Studies?, in 2008 is still a useful exercise, especially for those of us working here at the University of Otago. In the following lecture I will highlight important themes and events found in the history of our subject within New Zealand’s universities, including the University of Otago. I will conclude with some observations about what Māori Studies might stand for now and in the future, especially at this institution.
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