Professional Doctorate in Indigenous Development and Advancement

My Professional Doctorate was as much a personal journey as an academic one. One of the most important things I learnt writing my post-graduate theses is that your research can prove you wrong. You start with an idea, but you might finish at the polar opposite of your starting position. It’s about learning.

My Masters thesis focused on the marginalisation of Māori women through legislation. Then, as I began preparing for my doctorate, I began to re-examine my thinking. I come from a strong line of Māori women who have mana and have continued to teach mātauranga-a-wāhine to their whanau. Yes, Māori women were marginalised, but we held our mana and the mātauranga that underpins it. My doctoral thesis examined who holds the power and what counts as knowledge for Māori women. When I wrote my Masters I was a marginalised woman. When I wrote my doctorate I was standing up for my rights as a Māori and as a woman.

My mother and I were the first mother and daughter at the whare wānanga to graduate together with doctorates. Our fields of interest are vastly different and we have different perspectives on the world but we supported each other. Sometimes that meant robust debate and interrogation of each other’s ideas, and that helped consolidate and strengthen our thinking. Sometimes that support was as simple as seeing mum’s lights on at 2 o’clock in the morning and knowing she was also sitting up working.

You commit to this journey because you want to support people, because you want to contribute to change in the world, and because you believe in what you’re doing. I’m a mother of five, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a niece. Having a doctorate doesn’t change any of that. What made a difference was being able to gift my research to my five daughters and to pass on the knowledge of how they are powerful women and transmitters of mātauranga Māori, regardless of any barriers that are put ahead of them in life.

* Dr Monique Gemmell is CEO and her mother Dr Sharon Barcello-Gemmell is a company director of Blenheim-based tertiary provider Koru Institute of Training and Education, which won the Māori Women’s Development Inc’s 2018 Māori Business Women Award for business collaboration.


Dr Monique Gemmell, Doctor of Indigenous Development & Advancement graduate

Dr Monique Gemmell, Doctor of Indigenous Development & Advancement graduate

Kimihia he huarahi ako

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