One of UW Tacoma’s four foundational tenets that sets us apart as an urban-serving institution is our willingness to do much of our work through deeply committed partnerships. One such partnership that we have been working on for over a year is a partnership to host cohorts of Washington State Tribal students who are working on a Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies at the Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi in Whakatāne, New Zealand. This institution is the world’s only Mauri university and happens to share many of our same values we have at UW Tacoma.
Its primary campus is in a city that, while very different, reminds me quite a bit of Tacoma. The town is on the coast on the east side of the North Island of New Zealand on the Bay of Plenty, which has a small protected harbor port somewhat similar to our Commencement Bay and Port of Tacoma. The Whakatāne River comes down from the mountains west of town and dissects the City of Whakatāne and flows into the bay much like the Puyallup River does here as well. The Whakatāne campus is one of three campuses of the university and is situated on Commerce Street right off the main downtown thoroughfare. (Does that sound familiar too?)
While our partnership is in the early stages, I feel like it will deepen overtime. Five of us from UW Tacoma traveled to their campus in February of this year and officials from their school were here this past week. Several of our faculty met with them about engaging in joint research, faculty exchanges, and possibly organizing a study abroad.
In the meantime, we have worked out the arrangements to hosts their Ph.D. students on our campus four times a year for four days each time while one of their professors comes from New Zealand to conduct some of their course work here in the Pacific Northwest. Since most of the current students are from Washington tribes — the one student from the Warm Springs tribe in Oregon actually lives in Washington — this saves considerable travel time for the cohort to not travel abroad. A trip to the New Zealand campus only occurs one time per year.
The first time we expect these students on our campus is in February 2018 and I encourage you to help them feel welcome. Dean Anne Bartlett and I were doing our best to help their campus leaders feel like they were Huskies this past weekend by taking them to the UW game on Saturday. It was their first experience with American college football and we think a very good outcome.