Mātauranga Māori is a strategic priority for New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge. The Challenge acknowledges its role and responsibility to support the generation of mātauranga Māori by iwi, hapū and whānau, and its appropriate utilisation and transfer. Engaging Māori in research is a priority and a shared responsibility for both the Crown and Māori.
Vision Mātauranga (VM) is woven through the structure and function of this Challenge. Māori researchers/managers contributed to the Oversight Group to shape this Challenge proposal. We ran a series of hui and consulted Māori researchers and authorities about the research and business plans to engage Māori perspectives within the Challenge.
We have appointed to the Science Leadership Group a Māori Manager with VM and tikanga expertise, as well as four Kaihautū, to provide advice and support to the Challenge on VM principles and concepts, Māori world views, tikanga, mātauranga, language, research priorities, and methodologies. The Kaihautū, supported by the Kāhui Māori, ensure the Challenge operates in accordance with the VM principles set out in the Collaboration Agreement. They also ensure coherence of approach across the Challenge, provide a pathway to build VM expertise among the Programme Leaders and other senior staff, and lead Māori-centred research.
Our Kāhui Māori serves as a strategic conduit to engage with iwi and Māori organisations on the Challenge as a whole and provide input on Māori research priorities and delivery of outcomes.
The proposed researcher development Programmes and engagement with wānanga, universities, and iwi will support development of Māori researchers/managers, grow a cohort of emerging Māori research leaders, and inspire young Māori to build science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers.
Kaihautū embedded as scientists
We have one Kaihautū in each Programme. Each also leads a Project. This enables scientific leadership for Kaihautū whilst building capability in mātauranga approaches in research leaders. Examples include:
- Presenting Mātauranga Māori perspectives to Project teams;
- Influencing scoping and planning of research directions and budgets;
- Informing teams on potential issues with data storage and sovereignty;
- Using networks to introduce iwi and Marae-based groups and Mātauranga practitioners;
Strategic influence by Māori
Tthe Challenge provided a vehicle to strengthen Māori influence on science strategies including participation in the Māori strategic advisory group for Biosecurity 2025, providing input into MPI’s review of Kauri dieback, participation in Te Mana Raraunga Māori Data Sovereignty Network, and in the Ministry for the Environment’s Te Ao Māori measures hui.
Māori research highlights
- Manaaki Whenua and Otago University, at the request of the Tūhoe Tuawhenua Trust, prepared a non-specialist summary entitled ‘eDNA – what and why?’ followed by a hui in July 2016 to discuss the potential for eDNA as a tool for the Trust to utilise in collaborative projects.
- An iwi-led initiative requesting research at a Ngāi Tahu wetland provided an opportunity for leadership by iwi stakeholders (Komite Kaupapa Taiao and Kati Huirapa Environment Committee) on ‘Tipping Points’ research, in collaboration with Otago University. They requested a case study on Inaka, which was chosen from among previously-determined priorities that address their short and long-term environmental, cultural, social and economic aspirations for the inaka fishery in the Waikouaiti catchment.
- A key part of Challenge research on ‘Customary use of tāonga species’ has been with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu developing the process for establishing a Ngāi Tahu Advisory Committee. The committee’s work programme involves strategic guidance on the scope of case studies, facilitating collaboration with kaumātua, environmental practitioners or kaitiaki, and natural resource users, and reviewing findings of the research prior to release. This committee is made up of 12 members from six tribal regions (Kaikōura, Mahaanui, Aoraki, Arai te Uru, Murikihu, and Te Tai Poutini) and three additional tribal experts.