"You're always the handmaiden, you're always the afterthought."
Māori academics are questioning how a government-funded research body selected five projects that met with its goal of promoting Māori knowledge, yet none of them are led by tangata whenua.
Science for Technological Innovation has given $200,000 to 15 researchers in this year's seed funding round, which allows them to develop their own high-risk and technically complex projects.
Five of those funded come under the Vision Mātauranga criteria, a government research funding strategy to bring Māori mātauranga (knowledge) and western science together, and to get more Māori into hi-tech research.
Only 2 percent of Māori and Pasifika people have careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).
Senior lecturer of Māori Studies at the University of Auckland Daniel Hikuroa was frustrated there appeared to be a lack of Māori researchers in the five Vision Mātauranga projects.
He said it was just another example of Māori not getting to be in the driver's seat when it comes to research about their communities.