Kia ora from Auckland

Sylvia Plain

Sylvia Plain

Intern at Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (Māori Centre of Research Excellence), Auckland, New Zealand

Part of the Queen Elizabeth II scholarship Establishing Right Relations Program

It has been almost two months since I landed in beautiful Aotearoa (New Zealand), and I have been having the time of my life. I am continually embraced by the amazing Maori people and their communities. The landscape is breath-taking, the food is superb, and the culture is vibrant. I couldn’t have asked for a better learning environment.

While in Auckland, I am interning at Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Maori Centre for Research Excellence, which is situated on the University of Auckland campus. My role as an intern is Journal Coordinator for AlterNative, an International Journal of Indigenous Peoples. It has been a great learning opportunity to participate in the peer review process, which provides a lot of insight into the amount of work it takes to get one’s work published.

In addition to my work with AlterNative, I am conducting my own research on the Whanganui River Deed of Settlement which granted legal rights to the Whanganui River. As Jacinta Ruru wrote in the Maori Law Review, this recognition is “undoubtedly legally revolutionary.

Whanganui River
Whanganui River

As a First Nations researcher and involved community member from Aamjiwnaang First Nation in southwestern Ontario, this case interests me very much. Many Anishinaabe communities are situated around the Great Lakes in both Canada and the United States. What I learn here in Aotearoa can be brought back to First Nations communities and put to immediate use in North America, as well as provide insight into the kind of relationships that can be established (as between the Crown and the Maori people) in order to make revolutionary progress (as in granting rights to the Whanganui River).

Being here in New Zealand provides me with the opportunity to visit the Whanganui River and the communities that are along the river, as well as Mount Tongariro which is the source of the river and an important ancestor for the people of the Whanganui River. These encounters are providing rich context and life to the legal documents and scholarly papers written on the Whanganui River Settlement. Merely studying those documents while in Canada could not possibly have been as enlightening

Mount Tongariro
Mount Tongariro

Being in New Zealand has also provided a great opportunity to contribute and exchange the knowledge that I carry from my culture, which enables me to understand the similarities and differences between Anishinaabe and Maori governing practices.

Miigwech—I give my thanks to the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship. This opportunity provides true scholarship and I have been placed in great hands with the staff, scholars and knowledge keepers here at Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.

July 28, 2016