More than 80 faculty, staff, and students gathered outside the office of University of Waikato’s Vice-Chancellor Neil Quigley to peacefully protest a proposal which would scrap the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies last Tuesday 14 August.
The proposal would merge various faculties into four super-divisions, with the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies (FMIS) relocating under the Arts and Social Sciences Division. Furthermore, the proposal would require individual faculties to go through another level of management to report to the Vice-Chancellor.
Māori and Indigenous Studies student Moerangi Tetapuhi told RNZ that “Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies means autonomy. I feel like as a university, we are leading in indigenous studies.”.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley said that the restructure “aim[s] to create more uniform academic unit sizes and organisational naming conventions, greater operational transparency, and increased capability for autonomous strategic leadership”.
Tetapuhi said the Faculty of Social Sciences also means autonomy in its respective fields of study, and deserve their own separate and unique faculties.
Whakarongotai Hokowhitu commented on a livestream of the protest that UoW was “relegating us, assimilating us — typical coloniser methodology”.
UoW has the highest proportion of Māori students of any University in New Zealand, at 23% of domestic students. Three FMIS academic staff sit on the Waitangi Tribunal, which is more staff on the Waitangi Tribunal than any other university.
According to Associate Professor Te Kahautu Maxwell, submissions from students and staff who opposed the restructure were vetoed last week. A final decision on the restructure will be made early September.