By Rosemary Rangitauira 30/11/2021

Māui Hudson says the characteristics of his namesake, the Māori diety Māui Tikitiki a Tāranga, enables and inspires him to confidently walk into new spaces of research.

He hails from Te Whakatōhea, Ngāruahine and Ngāpuhi.

Māui is a trained physiotherapist but is well-known for his leadership in creating guidelines and principles to safeguard mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) across various research disciplines including genomics.

The associate professor in the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the Waikato University is an interdisciplinary researcher who says he enjoys what he does.

“I love being nosy and having a name such as Māui empowers me to feel comfortable to walk into a space and ask questions. There are a couple of reasons why – because Māui Tikitiki a Tāranga wasn’t scared to challenge convention. He was purposeful. You can reflect on his journeys such as obtaining his grandmother’s jawbone and his engagement with his elders. His characteristics help me to push and contest people’s thinking, as well as help them to venture into unknown research spaces and conversations.”

Māui has researched a wide range of areas including science data, health, technology, environment and innovation.

Here are examples of some of the projects he’s been involved in:

Māui says he’s driven by empowering Māori knowledge – mātauranga Māori.

“I like to look at the way mātauranga Māori interacts with the world. We have a variety of researchers who focus on various disciplines, including how traditional practices can be revitalised or how they would work in today’s changing world. And what I like doing is thinking about how that extends into new terrains. So how we think about tikanga Māori (Māori protocols), and how it interacts and is safeguarded in a modern context such as genetics and gene editing. I want to see how it links to the past and how I can ensure we do our due diligence to protect our mātauranga for future generations – say for my tamariki (children).”

Māui is a co-director of Local Context which strives to enhance and establish local and indigenous governance frameworks in New Zealand. He’s pleased mātauranga Māori is more widely accepted in Aotearoa now. With a huge smile on his face, he encourages taiohi Māori or emerging kairangahau Māori (Māori researchers) to join him.

“Can they join us quickly? There is so much mahi that needs to be done,” he laughs.

Māui offers emerging researchers some advice because he says there is limited education available that covers his research scope.

“Do lots of things in your studies. That means working with people with all sorts of different expertise and knowledge. Like how we, as Māori, used to learn. Whāia te mātauranga – Follow the learnings. You can learn a set of skills from one person who will encourage you to follow the trail of the learnings from another knowledgeable person. From there, decipher what you’ve heard and seen, and make up your own mind.”

Māui says this style of learning can enable growth and maturity, as well as change and enhance society.

Bonus read

If you’re interested you can watch Māui Hudson and his presentation about:

You can check out more publications Māui has been involved in here.