2. Focus on kaupapa Māori research – information available for NSC, Endeavour and VMCF funds

2.1 – 74 projects or 11% of projects across NSC, Endeavour and VMCF were described as predominantly kaupapa Māori research

Of the 699 projects in NSC, Endeavour, and VMCF, 74 projects worth $44.1m indicated they were predominantly kaupapa Māori research (with 50% or more of the project self-classified as kaupapa Māori). This is approximately 11% of the number of projects awarded funding in these funds from 2018 to 2020.

In value terms, of the $44.1 million awarded to kaupapa Māori projects:

  • 55% ($24.3m) went to projects where the main funding contract was held by Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) – the majority ($14.3) was for 3 projects hosted by GNS Science, including one project of very high value (a $13.2m Endeavour project).
  • 21% ($9.1m) went to projects where the Universities of Otago and Auckland were key contract holders.
  • 6% ($2.7m) went to projects hosted by Māori- led organisations – 6 organisations had one project each, with the majority going to one project of very high value (a $2.2m Endeavour project led by Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki).
Figure 4 RSI funding Maori

Figure 4: Value of kaupapa Māori research projects across NSC, Endeavour, and VMCF — breakdown by host organisation type, 2018 to 2020


The organisations referred to here are those that hold the funding contract with MBIE. Other partner, or subcontractor organisations may carry out mahi as part of the research project, but these are not captured here. Organisations are classified by type as part of the analysis, based on their characteristics.

The number of kaupapa Māori research projects may be underestimated for VMCF as data was only available for 2018 and 2019 (not for 2020, at the time of this analysis).

2.2 Projects in VMCF tend to be more Māori centred and aligned with kaupapa Māori research than in NSC and Endeavour

Across the 3 funds, VMCF has the highest proportion of projects indicating the project is kaupapa Māori research. Individual projects within the VMCF also tend to take more of a kaupapa Māori approach, and are much more Māori centred. Less effort and alignment is noted for each project against categorisations where Māori are simply ‘involved’ or where the project has ‘specific relevance to Māori’. This is expected given the purpose of VMCF.

Projects funded through Endeavour are on average much less focused on kaupapa Māori approaches, and tend to have high portions of projects of no relevance to or involvement with Māori.

Projects within NSC are much more variable in terms of their alignment, with a spectrum of approaches and relevance to Māori. There is a large proportion of projects which do not align with kuapapa Māori research, but strong alignment of effort at a project level when they do.

2.3 Kaupapa Māori research projects focus on producing positive outcomes for Māori using a partnership approach 

A focus on producing positive outcomes for Māori, for example:

  • value for whānau, hapū and iwi
  • place-based research
  • kaitiakitanga of taonga, traditional resources and knowledge.

“[the project aims] to strengthen the whanaungatanga within [the iwi], lift the well-being of its people and rebuild a vibrant community/region.”

“[the research] will empower local hapū to bring about landscape rehabilitation and ecological restoration.”

"The proposed kaumātua led project supports research that promotes the assertion of independence and autonomy by kaumātua who desire lives of longevity, quality, and equity in positive-ageing.”

“This co-created project intends to provide [the iwi] with robust information about its tamariki (0-4 years) in order to develop evidence informed programmes to improve the health, wellbeing and prosperity of whānau and their tamariki.”

Source: quotes from applications.

Use of kaupapa Māori approaches:

  • using or investigating mātauranga Māori, traditional knowledge and practices
  • research designed and conducted in partnership with mana whenua
  • sharing or transferring knowledge.

“The objective … is to enable solutions that work for Māori … by nurturing research that is by, with and for whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori communities.”

“We will integrate local/traditional/Iwi knowledge and integrate new te reo and Māori values into improved natural hazard resilience strategies for all New Zealand communities.”

“…rohe-centric case studies to ensure mātauranga Māori can interface, inform and transform our resilience within communities...”

“This research will bring together mātauranga Māori and western science to investigate habitat connectivity as it applies to the unique social, cultural and ecological context of the harbour.”

Source: quotes from applications.

2.4 Projects 'involving Māori' span areas of recognised importance to Māori, but the integration of Māori values and principles are not common 

In comparison to the projects that took a kaupapa Māori approach, those that referenced simply ‘involving Māori’:

  • do not often mention any Māori values, principles and approaches, though do speak to cultural appropriateness, and drawing on existing frameworks such as Waka Taurua Framework and Te Mana o te Wai 
  • speak mostly about ‘engaging with stakeholders, iwi and hapū, and community groups’, ‘facilitating’ and ‘working with’ and sharing learnings with Māori, rather than collaborating.
Last updated: 19 April 2023