14 Mar 2013

Maori highly valued in Aboriginal communities - researcher

6:36 am on 14 March 2013

A researcher who specialises in Maori in Australia says Maori who work in Aboriginal communities are highly valued by the authorities there because they have an ability to connect with indigenous Australians in a way other people can't.

Since publishing a series of research papers on Maori in Australia, including a major report for Te Puni Kokiri in 2007, Paul Hamer has also been hearing stories about how Aboriginal people and Maori interact with each other.

He says even though there has been some resentment among some Aboriginals towards Maori who prosper in their country, most of the stories have been positive.

Mr Hamer says he's met many Maori in Australia who work with Aboriginals, for example in prisons where a high number of them are incarcerated.

He says Maori thrive in those environments and from the Australian authorities' perspective Maori are the next best thing to being able to employ indigenous Australians in those roles.

Mr Hamer says Maori realise that and have a real commitment to that kind of kaupapa.

He says although there are sometimes tensions between the two groups, overall it's a positive relationship rather than a negative one.

Paul Hamer is currently conducting two surveys: one for Maori living in Australia and another for Maori who used to live there but have now returned to New Zealand.