Our research

The Dame Mira Szászy Research Centre conducts multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research and education programmes concerning Māori and Pacific economic development. Our current projects are summarised below.

Associate Professor Carla Houkamau

Te Rangahau o Te Tuakiri Māori me Ngā Waiaro ā-Pūtea | The Māori Identity and Financial Attitudes Study (MIFAS)

The MIFAS is the first large-scale (n = 7,019) nationwide study of Māori aged 18 and over that aims to correlate personal cultural beliefs and practices to economic choices. The survey is funded by a Marsden grant for “How Great Can We Be: Identity Leaders of the Māori Economic Renaissance.” It is the largest survey of Māori financial attitudes that has ever been conducted.

Taking Control: Māori responses to money management, wealth and saving

The project “Taking control: Māori responses to money management, wealth and saving” was approved by the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee 4 April, 2018 – for three years. This research was funded by a Kia Ārohi Kia Mārama Scoping Excellence Award from Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM), awarded to Carla Houkamau.

Dr Kiri Dell

Whenua BEINGS: Raising the consciousness of Māori landowners

Whenua BEINGS is a relational engagement strategy that aims to raise the consciousness of Māori regarding their relationships with whānau and whenua. Kiri has developed the framework for this project, which was informed by her PhD research.

Nuka: Creating high value products from mānuka and kānuka trees

Mānuka and kānuka are two native tea tree species found widely within New Zealand. Most research on these two plants is motivated by the medicinal value identified in the products. Unlike mānuka, which has extensive and in-depth research and reviews conducted on it, similar studies and appraisals on kānuka are lacking. Kiri’s research presents evidence that will help promote diversified use of mānuka and kānuka and encourage commercialisation of the latter as much as the former.

Dr Billie Lythberg

Te Ao Hou: Transforming Worlds in New Zealand 1900-1950 (2016-20), Marsden project led by Dame Anne Salmond

Billie is exploring how the interweaving of Māori and European ideas, institutions and technologies challenged colonial structures and generated ground-breaking programmes in the arts, sciences, law and economy. This project contributes to international scholarly debates to present-day Māori-led innovations in law, land use and cultural and economic revitalisation.

Ancient Futures: late 18th and early 19th century Tongan arts and their legacies (2017-20), Marsden project led by Phyllis Herda

Billie leads the object-centric research on this project that explores art and material culture from Tonga, in collaboration with contemporary Tongan artists and knowledge holders, to recover knowledge critical for understanding Tongan history and the relationships and possible futures sought by gift exchange proponents and participants.

Tāngata Tiriti: learning the trick of standing upright here (2018-21), Marsden project with co-PIs Chris Woods and Avril Bell

Billie is gathering stories of partnership and identity from non-Māori working closely and constructively with Māori in galleries, libraries, archives and museums, to advance theoretical knowledge about partnership and the Treaty in the ‘post-settlement’ era.

Vā Moana: space and relationality in Pacific thought and identity (2019-22), Marsden project led by Albert Refiti (AUT)

Billie is investigating how the Samoan and Tongan concept of vā, or ‘space that connects’, has been adapted and adopted in communities and policy in Aotearoa-New Zealand to enhance Pacific people’s wellbeing in relation to each other and Tāngata Whenua.