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A Fire in the Belly of Hineamaru


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Melinda Webber (Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Hau, Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whakaue) is a professor and Te Tumu/Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at Waipapa Taumata Rau/the University of Auckland. She is a former Fulbright/Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga scholar. In 2016, she was awarded a Marsden Fast-Start grant to undertake a research project examining the distinctive identity traits of Te Tai Tokerau tūpuna (leading to this book), and in 2017 she was awarded a prestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowship to tackle an important question facing educators – ‘How can we foster cultural pride and academic aspiration among Māori students?’. Melinda Webber was the 2017 Director for Phase Three of The Starpath Project and is currently the University of Auckland co-director for the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity programme. She also spent six years as a co-principal investigator on the Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga-funded project ‘Ka Awatea’ which examined the nature of teaching, learning, and home socialisation patterns that support Māori student success in education. Melinda’s research focuses on better understanding the effects of Māori student motivation and academic engagement, culturally sustaining teaching, localised curricula, and enduring school–family–community partnerships for learning.

Te Kapua O’Connor (Ngāti Kurī, Pohūtiare) is a doctoral student at Te Wānanga o Waipapa: School of Māori Studies and Pacific Studies at Waipapa Taumata Rau/the University of Auckland. Between 2017 and 2020 Te Kapua worked as a researcher on the Marsden Fast-Start-funded project led by Professor Melinda Webber. The project examined the distinctive identity traits of Te Tai Tokerau tūpuna and led to this book. In 2020, Te Kapua secured a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship to commence his PhD. He was also awarded the 2021 Tā Hemi Henare Scholarship from the Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board to further support him in his doctoral studies. Te Kapua is studying the tikanga of ahikā, striving to broaden, add nuance, and challenge some of what we know about the celebrated tikanga.


'This collection of narratives by Melinda Webber and Te Kapua O'Connor about Te Tai Tokerau tupuna highlights the adaptability and versatility of those who came before us. By understanding their legacy, we also better understand their lasting impact on hapu and iwi, and on the wider social fabric of Aotearoa.' --From the foreword by the Governor-General, Dame Cindy Kiro (Ngapuhi, Ngati Hine, Ngati Kahu)

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