Sing Aotearoa 2016

  • SING interns at Puketeraki marae

    SING interns at Puketeraki marae

  • SING interns doing DNA extraction exercise with Tanya Flynn.

    SING interns doing DNA extraction exercise with Tanya Flynn.

Summer internsip of indigenous peoples in genomics

The inaugural SING Aotearoa internship programme was led by Te Waka o Tama-rereti, an emerging network of Maori with interests in Genomics, Informatics and Technology.

Co-funded by the BioHeritage Challenge, SING Aotearoa was developed as part of the Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund led by the University of Waikato, University of Auckland, and the University of Otago with support from Nga Pae o te Māramatanga (the Māori Centre of Research Excellence), Genomics Aotearoa, and the Science for Technological Innovation Challenge.

The workshop was hosted at the University of Otago and supported by the Department of Biochemistry, the Department of Statistics, Genetics Otago, NZ Genomics Ltd and the Deputy Vice Chancellors Office. Out of town faculty and interns stayed at St Margarets College during the workshop and this provided excellent food and lots of opportunities for informal conversations.

Sixteen interns from across Aotearoa participated in the SING workshop. The interns ranged from high school students and PhD students to community members with backgrounds in science, law, humanities, and medicine.

The aim of the SING Aotearoa programme was to develop the interns understanding of genomics alongside some of the best researchers in New Zealand. We were also fortunate to have two faculty mentors from the SING USA program join us in Aotearoa. Dr Nanibaa Garrison and Dr Jessica Bardill added an international dimension to the program and brought their experience working with American Indian and Alaska Native interns.

In recent years there has been significant advances in the fields of genetics and genomics and an increasing focus on Māori populations and indigenous species.

All research conducted in Aotearoa New Zealand should involve consultation with Iwi Māori so it is important that Māori understand enough about the technical, ethical and cultural issues to engage researchers in robust discussions during that process.

While genetics has been a lightning rod for debate in past years this workshop provided a space to share ideas and thoughts in an informative way.

Ma te mohio ka marama, Ma te marama ka matau, Ma te matau ka ora.
Through awareness comes understanding, through understanding comes knowledge, through knowledge comes wellbeing.

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