At its heart, mātauranga Māori is an indigenous body of knowledge in that it arises from a worldview based upon kinship based relationships between people and the natural world. Humans are not seen as superior to the natural order but rather a part within it. Natural flora and fauna are kin to humankind and all phenomenon dwell in an intricate web of relationships and interconnections, all live within ‘the woven universe’.
Historically, mātauranga Māori views of the natural world were informed both by the sacred texts and narratives (pūrākau) held by the iwi as well as the observation of the natural phenomena handed down over many generations. Typically, iwi, hapū and whānau in history maintained a wealth of knowledge about the phenomenon of the natural world developed through observation and the lived experience of communities.
Western ‘mainstream’ science proceeds on different ideas about the nature of the world and the processes and procedures by which it can be known, understood and explained. For example, science does not proceed explicitly on the idea that humans are part of the natural order and therefore have responsibilities to it, as mātauranga Māori asserts. Rather, science is based upon the view that its purpose is to study ‘objective reality’ and that this is achieved through systematic observation, measurement, experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
Our understanding of the world, therefore, has developed differently in different cultures. For those who currently study the place and people of Aotearoa New Zealand, what is the upshot of these distinct approaches?
Join this conversation to explore the principles which underpin these methodologies, and listen to both Māori and non- Māori practitioners discuss contemporary examples of how they research the world around us.
Presented in partnership with The Royal Society Te Apārangi
Views expressed at this event may not reflect those of Royal Society Te Apārangi