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Taiwan academics promote Awanuiārangi partnership

05 December 2017

Members of the National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan

Potential partnerships between Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and higher education institutes in Taiwan have been canvassed by a group of Taiwanese academics.

The team representing the Taiwan Connection Project visited Awanuiārangi in Whakatāne as part of the Taiwanese government initiative to promote and deepen partnerships with higher education and research institutes in Aotearoa, particularly between Māori and the indigenous peoples of Taiwan.

Organised by the Center of International Indigenous Affairs from the National Dong Hwa University, the group of 10 faculty members, post-doctoral fellows, staff and doctoral students of the College of Indigenous Studies spent 11 days in New Zealand in October and November, describing their exchange with Awanuiārangi as promising.

Tasked with initiating educational and cultural exchange opportunities and collaborations, the Taiwan Connection Project team met Awanuiārangi Acting Deputy CE and Executive Director of Research, Professor Te Kani Kingi; Head of the School of Indigenous Graduate Studies, Professor Nathan Matthews; and other faculty and staff members to share common experiences and discuss potential collaboration.

“As Taiwanese indigenous peoples, we share a special bond with Māori,” the Project team said. Sixteen indigenous peoples have been officially recognised by the Taiwan government, and 10 nations are in the process of obtaining recognition for their lost indigenous status. Taiwan indigenous peoples belong to the Austronesian grouping now found across the Pacific Ocean, across the Indian Ocean to Madagascar, and in Southeast Asia. The indigenous peoples of Taiwan number nearly 550,000, just over 2 per cent of the island’s population.

The Center of Indigenous Development at National Dong Hwa University’s College of Indigenous Studies is looking into establishing an indigenous university in Taiwan and is studying as examples the three Wānanga in New Zealand.

“They are our main focus of study as they are exceptional in the cultivation of indigenous professionals and construction of indigenous knowledge systems with a complete range of education levels,” the Center said. “In addition, their experiences with engaging modern/western paradigms of knowledges as well as expertise in language and cultural revitalisation, international expansion of cultural and art industries, campus building and all-Māori curriculum are of specific interest.”

Taiwan Connection also met with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Te Awamutu, the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato, Auckland University of Technology and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, the Māori Centre of Research Excellence.

The Taiwan Center of International Indigenous Affairs said it looks forward to building and deepening productive partnerships in New Zealand, and will host a workshop on indigenous higher education, inviting senior academics from New Zealand to Taiwan to further the exciting discussion on education between Māori and the indigenous peoples of Taiwan.