Veronica Tawhai is a member of the Ngati Porou nation, working as a Maori development lecturer in the policy and politics stream of the School of Maori Art, Knowledge and Education at Massey University in Aotearoa New Zealand. She has a Masterate in Education (1st class hons) from Massey University and is currently completing her PhD which examines the nature of teaching and learning about indigeneity and the implications for citizenship education in indigenous-coloniser relations. She received a Fulbright-Nga Pae o te Maramatanga senior scholar award to assist with her PhD work and held visiting scholar placements with the grassroots activist Centre for World Indigenous Studies in Olympia, Washington and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Canberra, Australia. She has authored several book chapters and co-edited two books to date, Weeping waters: The Treaty of Waitangi and constitutional change and Always speaking: The Treaty of Waitangi and public policy. She is currently working on a third co-edited volume Emancipation Aotearoa: Maori thoughts on critical theories as well as her first co-authored piece, E tu! Political education Aotearoa. Veronica also does extensive volunteer work, as an academic mentor for Māori tertiary students in her community, as a Treaty of Waitangi educator for schools and community organisations, and as the current national coordinator for Matike Mai Aotearoa Rangatahi, the youth arm of the Independent Working Group on Constitutional Transformation of the Iwi Leaders’ Forum, Aotearoa New Zealand.
Tena tatau. Over the last nine years I have had the privilege of serving our communities as an academic within the field of indigenous studies. The opportunities we have as indigenous scholars to contribute to positive transformations for our people I feel are unique. Yet, much could be achieved from greater collective reflection and strategizing as to how we might maximise these opportunities and alleviate barriers preventing the full realisation of those benefits for our people. Many factors challenge our ability to contribute to positive change, such as the pressure to self-censure our political analyses. I have been inspired by the stance NAISA has taken on several indigenous and social justice issues and very much look forward to exposing our Matike Mai youth group to such analysis at this year’s NAISA meeting. Similarly, if NAISA members think I might have something to contribute, it would be my honour to serve on the Nominations committee.