Issue 10
Monday, 02 December 2019
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Dr Janine Joyce was a keynote speaker at the University of Otago National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies Conference
Dr Janine Joyce was a keynote speaker at the University of Otago National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies Conference

Finding ways to keep culture and identity alive

By Kaye Hall

Researcher in peace and conflict, Dr Janine Joyce has spoken about what it takes to survive as an indigenous culture working with modern government and legal structures during her keynote address at the University of Otago National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPCS) Conference recently.

Based on three hours of interviews with Māori elder, Hine Forsyth of the Ngāi Tahu tribe, Dr Joyce’s paper examined the processes of democracy and keeping culture and identity alive.

“I took the story to the conference to place it back into the community it came from,” Dr Joyce said.

“I want to return the story gifted to me by Hine and publish it in a way that honours the tradition of oral narrative and does not colonise an elder’s voice.

“One task when rebuilding after conflict is to ensure that all voices are placed evenly into history. Southern Pākehā (New Zealand European) and Māori relations may benefit from understanding this fuller picture.”

Ngāi Tahu has held the Crown legally accountable through the Treaty of Waitangi for the past 150 years. Once they achieved and received compensation from the Crown (for stolen lands) they went back and had lots of tribal hui (meetings) to decide what was going to happen next. 

Dr Joyce’s paper looked at how the Ngāi Tahu have developed indigenous-led and owned social service, business, language, health and educational structures. It explored how communities survive colonisation, how they look after cultural practices and thrive, and how they can operate on an even playing field.

Dr Joyce believes that the material is useful to any indigenous community wanting to establish itself within a modern democracy. 

“There are different ways that community makes decisions,” she said.

“In this story the tribe has very strong matriarchal processes. My work looks at the interface between what the Crown did and how the tribe responded to that and how they thrived. 

For the Ngāi Tahu, it was important to have strong leaders that were accountable to the people and totally consultative. Aspects of Māori culture, such as kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) and manaakitanga (hospitality) were helpful in this process.

Originally from the South Island of Aotearoa (New Zealand), Dr Joyce took up her position as CDU Lecturer in Social Work this year and will continue to pursue her research in peace and conflict. She believes that every community has elders with knowledge of how to build harmony. 

“Where there is war there is also peace; knowledge about creation and destruction. 

Our role is to listen for and privilege the voices of peace. If we allow ourselves to be hospitable to the unity within us instead of the diversity, then we see more possibilities for peaceful change.”