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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, July 12, 2010

Indigenous science allows big picture view

A Maori researcher says openness to Maori frames of reference can enrich science.

Maui Hudson from the Environmental Science crown research institute has been attending the Health Research Council’s annual Hui Whakapiripiri, which discussed a new ethical framework for Maori research.

He says like science, matauranga or Maori knowledge is based on a history of observation of the natural world.

“They often talk about the difference between indigenous knowledge and science, how science really tries to get further and further down into what the little parts are and how the little parts work, and indigenous knowledge is a lot about how the system works as a whole and how one part relates to other parts. Sometimes the focus is different, but they are all about describing what’s happening and how people experience the world,” Mr Hudson says.

He says tikanga Maori is not fixed in the past, and can in fact guide Maori on how they can incorporate new things into their lives.


The artistic director of Taki Rua, James Ashcroft, says Maori playwrights and actors have hit a purple patch.

The Wellington based Maori theatre company is about to open a season of David Geary’s play Mark Twain and Me in Maoriland about the celebrated American writer’s controversial 1895 lecture tour to this country.

Mr Ashcroft says there is a growing pool of Maori talent both on stage and behind the scenes, which is drawing in both audiences and more performers.

“I can only see more benefit, especially with Maori graduates coming out of places like Toi Whakaari. And more non-trained performers like we’ve got in four new performers working on our te reo Maori season this year. It’s about giving them the platform, the wares to find their creative voices on stage,” Mr Ashcroft says.


Armchair athletes could get a chance later this year to share Lisa Tamati’s grueling seven-day trek through the Gobi desert.

The Taranaki ultradistance runner is just back from northern China, where she placed second in what’s regarded as one of the world’s toughest races.

One of her first stops was dropping off with a documentary producer the footage shot from her helmet cam during the race.

“My producer’s going to have to have a look at it and see what I’ve come up with but there’s some raw emotion, some big drama stories, spectacular scenery, everything that makes for good documentary I think,” Ms Tamati says.

The death of an American runner of dehydration and heat exhaustion during the sand mountain stage brought home to competitors the risks of the race.


A change in the formula for school funding is unfair on low decile schools with high Maori rolls, according to Kelvin Davis, Labour’s associate education spokesperson.

Operational funding will now be tied to quarterly rather than annual roll counts.

Mr Davis, a former intermediate school, says that means schools won’t have the resources to address the disproportionately high Maori drop-out rate.

“Lower decile schools which tend to be made up of Maori and Pacific Island students have difficulty keeping students towards the end of the year. That means they are gong to lose funding and those are the very schools that should be receiving more funding so that they can implement strategies and be supportive to try to keep those kids at school right through the year,” Mr Davis says.

He says many low income families move during the year because of housing problems, and that affects schools.


The contribution of Maori entrepreneurs to the creative sector will be celebrated at a panel discussion at the Waitakere City Council Chambers in west Auckland tonight.

It’s part of a three-day Matariki event, Nga Korero Tataki, which aims to stimulate debate about sustainable Maori economic development.

Panelist Ella Henry, a business lecturer and broadcaster, says while the traditional Maori economy is still based in the primary sector, the creative industries have attracted many city-based Maori.

She says how they have turned their talent and passion into successful businesses makes for great stories.

“You know this isn’t rocket science. This is believe in yourself, follow your own path, trust your instincts, gather people around you who are honest and clear with you, those are things we have known in management studies for a number of years but we haven’t really had an opportunity to hear Maori stories about those kinds of successes,” Ms Henry says.

Nga Korero Takitaki will also include sessions on creating inter-generational wealth for Maori and the role treaty settlements may play in the new Maori economy.


A contributor to a new collection of te reo Maori songs believes the album has the elements to be picked up by mainstream radio.

Tatou Tatou E, which is released today, features Huia Hamon, Rachael Fraser, Mana Epiha, Jermaine Leef, and Ruia Aperahama singing over beats by Chong Nee.

Ms Hamon says with elements of reggae, organic soul and electronica, it could be the album to bring the language to mainstream youth stations.

Tatou Tatou E 2, also funded by Maori broadcast funding agency Te Mangai Paho, is in the pipeline.


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