From early Māori society to youth justice

04 November 2016
Professor Thegn Ladefoged
Professor Thegn Ladefoged

The Faculty of Arts is celebrating the success of six research projects which have been awarded $3.2 million in the latest Marsden Fund round.

Studies range from an international comparison of Māori and Pasifika youth justice to a ground-breaking investigation into early Māori society.

In a $705,000 project, archaeologist Professor Thegn Ladefoged will lead a team of international researchers sourcing and dating obsidian artefacts to better understand how Māori society has changed and evolved over time.

"It’s exciting because it gives us the opportunity to learn about how over the span of several centuries, Māori society transformed from relatively autonomous village-based groups into larger territorial hapū lineages, which later formed even larger geo-political iwi associations," he says.

An investigation led by sociologists Dr Robert Webb and Dr Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni will examine Māori and Samoan experiences of youth justice in a study across three different criminal justice jurisdictions: Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and the USA.

Expected to have international significance, the project aims to reveal how communities experience settler-colonial justice systems, and what response to these systems can be developed to recognise and better meet indigenous values and specific needs.   

And a study asking if we’re wasting a unique opportunity to create a city powered by renewable energy in Christchurch has been awarded $630,000.

Led by Head of Sociology, Associate Professor Steve Matthewman, it will focus on what has happened since the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

"Almost all electricity [in Christchurch] is still centrally generated by big hydro, transmission and distribution is monopolised by a handful of companies, distributed customer-generated power is infinitesimal and there is no solar or wind infrastructure," he says.

Dean of Arts, Professor Robert Greenberg is delighted with the Faculty’s Marsden success, which he says is the best outcome for Arts since he became Dean in 2013.

"It demonstrates the very high quality of the research being carried out by our excellent academic staff. We are also fortunate to have such a hard-working and dedicated research support team, including our Associate Dean (Research) Christine Arkinstall, Lynette Read, Melissa Spencer and Anne Pelzel."

Successful Marsden-funded projects from the Faculty of Arts

Professor Thegn Ladefoged | Anthropology | The making of Māori society: an archaeological analysis of social networks and geo-political interaction | $705,000

Dr Robert Webb and Dr Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni | Sociology | Māori, Pasifika Youth and Justice: International Comparisons | $695,000   

Associate Professor Steve Matthewman | Sociology | Power Politics: Electricity and Sustainability in Post-Disaster Ōtautahi (Christchurch) | $630,000   

Dr Phyllis Herda | Anthropology | Ancient Futures: Late 18th and early 19th century Tongan arts and their legacies | $530,000   

Dr Shaofeng Li | Applied Language Studies and Linguistics | Implicit Language Aptitude: How to Learn a Second Language Unconsciously | $300,000   

Dr Julie MacArthur | Politics and International Relations | Power to the People? Investigating the politics and resilience of community energy initiatives in New Zealand, the UK and Denmark | $300,000

38 projects from the University of Auckland received funding of $20.6 million in this Marsden Fund round, representing the best ever result for the University.

University of Auckland celebrates $20.6 million in Marsden fund awards