Kauriland Summit 2021
Theme 2: Mobilising for Action
Q&A / Discussion
What impact do you think your work has had so far?
I think one of the most important things that we are doing is empowering. But to be able to empower or work with empowerment is to also understand. You have to start with understanding, so our first year has been about deeply understanding people’s connections. There are really challenging conversations that we have to have with communities, researchers, mana whenua, working across disciplines and sectors if we’re going to work in this transdisciplinary space.
We’ve provided a safe space to have these conversations, which for Western scientists are decolonizing conversations around our practices that drive our biases. It needs to be done in a way that enables people to feel that they can come to that conversation, feel safe, but also be empowered to act. And I think we’ve made some good headway in that space.
Something else that stood out was a general lack of awareness of myrtle rust in our rōpū Māori groups. So this is an important impact and focus for us, that they now have an awareness and want to learn more.
Art as research is an exciting approach to understanding and articulating the connection between people and the environment. What barriers and opportunities do (have) you seen in this research?
We’re operating in a range of spaces, both Māori and Pākehā. We’re connecting across the social sciences and Western colonial sciences, as well, in terms of awareness. For Māori art is interconnected with everything and it is a way of understanding the world. Nothing is separate, there are many different kinds of knowledge and art is a way to get people thinking, being aware, activated and involved.
It involves a range of media as well. We’ve got visual artists, we’ve got a filmmaker, we’ve got a designer, and each one of those is approaching this through the arts in different ways. We’ve just made a documentary about Graham Atkins (Ngāti Porou) and his stories about the death and dying of ramarama (myrtle rust), which we hope to release soon.
We’re also working closely with iwi in several places to look at leading different art projects for public awareness, e.g. developing waiata.
What are the key aspects of the connections and changes identified in the post-colonial environment research project?
We’re looking at everyday practices that constrain us within science and biosecurity. Science policy practices relationships and other big issues that become embedded in everyday practice. How those shifts can happen within the system by addressing those everyday practices.