By Laura Goodall 25/02/2016


Nau mai, haere mai! Welcome!

Mātau Taiao is a space for researchers and other people to share their stories about how they connect science and indigenous knowledge – known in New Zealand as Mātauranga Māori.

The name Mātau Taiao was created especially for this blog by Jason King at AUT (tēnā rawa atu koe, Jason).

He explains its origins and purpose:

Credit: Flickr/tgerus“The English translation of Mātau Taiao is ‘World Knowledge’.  Mātau means to know, acquainted with, understand; and Taiao means environment, Earth, world.  The explanation behind the combination of both words is that it provides a ‘home/space’ or ‘whare/wāhi’ for Mātauranga Māori and Science to coexist.

“Mātauranga Māori generally means: the body of knowledge originating from Māori ancestors, including the Maori world view and perspectives, Māori creativity and cultural practices.  Therefore I needed to make sure that there was a unique and safe place in SciBlogs for Mātauranga Māori. Mātauranga Māori can be deemed as ‘tapu’ or ‘sacred knowledge’ and there needs to be an awareness and understanding about that sacredness.   Mātauranga Māori researchers can be protective of their knowledge and are reluctant to give it over unless they are assured that the knowledge is respected.  Mātau Taiao provides a ‘wāhi’ for Mātauranga Māori.”

 

Scientific knowledge about the natural world isn’t just about the environment – it includes physics, chemistry, psychology and a whole bunch of others. And indigenous knowledge is no different in its breadth and depth.

Yet the vast majority of global scientific research seems to neglect recognising indigenous peoples’ knowledge and incorporate it into their work. And when research institutes claim they do, do they fully consult with indigenous communities throughout the entire project’s life – from idea pitch to policy?

This is slowly changing, little by little, thanks to an increasing number of researchers who have roots in indigenous communities as well as those see indigenous knowledge as potentially containing solutions to problems – both in New Zealand and globally.

While collaborations of any kind can sometimes be tough going, one thing is clear: a lot can be achieved with new perspectives and many heads are better for tackling important issues.

Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi
With your contribution and mine, the people will flourish.
— Māori proverb