Marsden Grant Award: Exploring Māori social justice concepts

What makes a just society? What would it take for humanity to live together justly on a global scale? Crucially for us as New Zealanders, how can we ensure that Māori and other indigenous perspectives get an equal share in discussions about social and global justice?

Dr Krushil Watene of Massey University Auckland has received a Marsden Fast-Start grant for her innovative project in political philosophy that will explore a Māori approach to these vital questions.

Dr Watene will introduce into international scholarly discussion an understanding of social justice with whakapapa, mana and manaakitanga at its core. She will then relate this approach to other indigenous concepts and to ‘mainstream’ theories of justice in western philosophy.

At present there is little recognition of social or global justice from the perspectives of non-western philosophical traditions. Instead, interest has largely centred on how western theories of justice accommodate and can be applied to indigenous peoples; failing to take seriously how their values, needs and aspirations shape our ideas about social justice.

Plato provided a framework for discussion which we generally accept as the precursor to our modern society. But what would Plato’s Republic have sounded like if he had taken ideas that are basic to Māori society as his starting point?

This project breaks new ground by explicitly bringing Māori and other indigenous perspectives into the global conversation. Thus, it has strong potential to enrich and develop our thinking about social justice and initiate a new framework for global justice theorising.

Total Funding: $300,000 000 (excl. GST) over 3 years

Researchers: Dr Krushil Watene, Department of Philosophy, Massey University, Private Bag 102904, North Shore, Auckland 0745