Batchelor Institute » New workshop links Indigenous scholars across the Pacific
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Date:June 30, 2016

New workshop links Indigenous scholars across the Pacific

Postgraduate Workshop

Uncle John Whop calling in from Thursday Island (left), Marla Billy and Dr Kirstie Close-Barry in Darwin (top right) and Trish Tupou (MA student), Dr. Melani Anae (Postgraduate Studies Advisor), Tarisi Vunidilo (Professional Teaching Fellow), Tiresa Po’e (MA student) at the University of Auckland (bottom right)


Indigenous postgraduate students from across Australia and New Zealand connected at an inventive workshop on June 29th.

Students at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education Graduate School and Maori and Pacific Islander students at the University of Auckland linked in online to the ‘Postgraduate Talanoa’ – Talanoa being the word for ‘discussion’ in standardised Fijian and other Pacific languages.

The event, which is the first of its kind to be held at either organization, helped to build new networks and connections, as well as assisted students in learning more about research frameworks being applied in both countries.

Research candidates from Darwin, Thursday Island and Brisbane joined with four postgraduate students from Auckland to present their research, talk about their research topic, framework, the challenges they have faced and how they are addressing those challenges.

This offered a unique opportunity for postgraduates to build their confidence, to share their knowledge and to connect with a broader network of scholars who share similar interests.

“This event will hopefully kick start ongoing conversations between Indigenous scholars across the Pacific, highlighting Indigenous research methods and theoretical perspectives. It also promotes sharing across cultures, particularly between Indigenous cultures from across the region, with several Pacific Islander, as well as Maori, postgraduates joining through the University of Auckland,” said Dr Kirstie Close-Barry, Director of Batchelor Institute Graduate School.

This innovative discussion group is the result of a longstanding association between Ms Tarisi Vunidilo, Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland, and Batchelor Institute’s Graduate School Director Dr Kirstie Close Barry.

Ms Tarisi Vunidilo tutored Dr Kirstie Close-Barry in Fijian language while she was completing her PhD. Since then, they have kept in touch and they have been talking about how they might engage postgraduate students at both of their workplaces.

“This talanoa or seminar will create an Indigenous academic ‘sharing platform’ amongst Aboriginal, Pacific and Torres Strait Islander postgraduates between two institutions in New Zealand and Australia. Students shared key points of their research relating to fieldwork methodologies, working with Indigenous communities and applying Indigenous research frameworks,” said Ms Vunidilo.

“I am grateful that the Centre for Pacific Studies Director, Associate Professor Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa supported this initiative and wishes all postgraduate students the very best in the seminar,” added Ms Vunidilo.

“I’m really thankful to Tarisi – it has been great to work together to create this unique opportunity for Batchelor Institute’s postgraduates to connect with colleagues on the other side of the Tasman. It is crucial that more people hear about the important research being done by Batchelor Institute’s postgraduates. It is also exciting for them, I think, to be able to sit down and consider the challenges they face in their own research with other Indigenous scholars,” said Dr Close-Barry.