Kauriland Summit 2021
Theme 1: Oranga

Summit Video

NRT Kaurilands Summit 2021 – Theme 1 Oranga from NZ’s BioHeritage Sci Challenge on Vimeo.

Q&A / Discussion

Mātua Tohe and Jamie Ataria, how has NRT supported you and your rongoā practices?

NRT has given Mātua Tohe the ability and freedom to continue doing what he needs to do, what he is passionate about and what he feels a responsibility to do. I (Jamie) provide support needed in order for people like Mātua Tohe and others to do what they need to do.

In NRT we are fortunate to have the opportunity to support and include mātauranga Māori and rongoā experts in our programme. It is a fine line between supporting/including and exploiting that community knowledge. How do we ensure that we do not stray into an exploitative process?

One of the benefits of this NRT Theme is to give Māori a place to undertake this research, and a framework with which we can assess our own progress. Western Science and mātauranga Māori have different ways of operating, with different expectations and obligations. In a Western science frame there are a range of things that a scientist is expected to do, which can create friction and tension within a mātauranga Māori perspective. Having an awareness of this is a first step in understanding what is best practice when working in a Māori knowledge frame.

You have touched on the difference of this research approach. How is this research viewed by those in the mainstream, when you share these ideas?

We’re in a really nice time, where people want to be involved in mātauranga Māori research, they want to do the kind of work that we’re doing. They want to see how it contributes to their Western-based science.

We have to be clear about the work that we are doing. This work is unashamedly for Māori, it is kaupapa research and our first commitments are to the environment, our whānau, mana whenua and our communities. We want to bring others on the journey with us too when the time is right, but at the moment we are focusing on doing Māori research. The concepts and work follow what would have happened traditionally. It’s about going back to basics, listening to our environment, listening to what’s actually happening around us and understanding why we have so much more disease now.

Matua Tohe, how do you feel working with this generation of young Maori putting new resources and tools at the service of your mahi?

I am working with a lot of rangatahi (youth) and bringing them into a space with mātauranga Māori and attuning them to this.

We also talk about working at the nexus of mātauranga and Western science. With researchers who have strengths in one or the other, so it is also about upskilling all our communities.  

I love the focus on framing science excellence in a way that acknowledges not only mātauranga knowledge but in the process it reveals the way that Western science is privileged at the expense and/or exclusion of non-Western concepts. My question, given the cultural divide, is science ‘Integration” really the path we want to take?

As Angus MacFarlane (Professor of Māori Research, University of Canterbury) says, it is okay to work in a Māori space just as it is okay to work in a Western science space. The two don’t always have to come together. Integration isn’t always the best option and isn’t necessarily what we’re always striving for. We’re quite happy to work in our separate spaces, and then come together and integrate where we need to, or where the benefit is. It’s also really exciting when we can come together and find new solutions and novel tools.

In the video the comment was made that research results needed to be validated but the ‘recipe’ for the rongoā would not be released to protect it. There seems to be a dilemma here in how the outcomes are validated. The Western approach is to include all the detailed methods and a statistical analysis. Could someone elaborate on how this is handled in mātauranga approaches?

There are lots of different ways to protect mātauranga and the rongoā of this project, and more specifically the recipe that is being used on our kauri trees. We could get a patent, but this doesn’t protect it from a mātauranga perspective, it doesn’t protect the knowledge. Or we could go down the trade secret route (like KFC’s 11 herbs and spices). We will share the methodology and process: how we have developed this project, selected and carried out trials, which will be done following a normal science method. What we don’t want to share is the intimate details of the mātauranga and the recipe which are also consistent with a science approach. 

What are the next steps and critical aspects that you need to work through in the coming year?

Expanding Mātua Tohe’s research to different sites and bringing other kaitiaki into the conversations around kauri ora, broadening the training for applying the rongoā and supporting the infrastructure required to deliver all of this.

Provide mana and space for our knowledge systems to flourish.

16 BMAs were identified. How many BMAs do we need for full disclosure of research? Do we have an idea of landmass under the 16 BMAs at present?

Biodiversity Management Areas (BMAs) are contiguous across Aotearoa.  Scientists and researchers priortised 16 BMAs and BMA clusters that are most affected by kauri dieback and myrtle rust. The prioritisation of BMAs was also dependent on the investment from the research themes. 

Any research that effects or uses taonga, including the collection and use of data and information, requires full disclosure to the hapū/whānau that have the cultural authority of that area. They vary in size, but are large enough for comparative profiles of research to occur within an area/s and small enough to allow for delimitation and specific research.

– Te Whakahononga team

Interesting discussion about recognition of Māori knowledge and taonga. This is not unlike recognition of prior published work where some cite and some do not cite the original work. It is quite a challenge for everyone as important results/data are distributed for others to verify as that is part of the science process but often hard to control whether your work gets the recognition it deserves.

Ae tautoko and acknowledge the points made by Te Whakahononga team.

What do you plan to include in the long-term monitoring? Or is that still being developed with mana whenua?

Any mahi we do with mana whenua, which includes long-term monitoring must be co-designed with and mandated by mana whenua. From a kaupapa Māori perspective, of which Oranga is situated, everything hinges on building trust, fostering relationships with mana whenua and ensuring that they are at the heart of any decision Oranga makes. This echoes the premise of Te Whakahononga ensuring that there is transparency and full disclosure to the Māori communities we engage.  In terms of long-term monitoring, Oranga is looking beyond the Challenge, so what we do now will build a solid foundation and safe space for further relationship building through collaborative research.


Kaurilands Summit 2021


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