Science can be a powerful ally

Published on Monday, 9 November 2015

Māori have a strong and active presence in New Zealand’s primary industries, and the New Zealand government has identified key actions for realising the potential of Māori land and water assets through its He kai kei aku ringa strategy and action plan.

Māori have a strong and active presence in New Zealand’s primary industries, and the New Zealand government has identified key actions for realising the potential of Māori land and water assets through its He kai kei aku ringa strategy and action plan.

One of the pivotal steps to realising this potential is encouraging engagement and understanding between the research sector and Māori organisations, in particular raising awareness of the national science system and how science collaboration works in action.

ESR (The Institute of Environmental Science and Research) is part of Te Ara Pūtaiao (TAP) – a collective of Māori managers and scientists representing New Zealand’s seven Crown research institutes (CRIs).

These Crown-owned companies work across many different sectors of the economy, including forestry, dairy, natural environment, public health and agri-business to provide scientific research and services that help improve productivity and sustainable-use of natural resources.

At Te Ara Putaiao 2015 symposium, CRIs alongside their Māori partners presented real examples of successful collaboration. Their stories deepened scientists’ understanding and reaffirmed our shared commitment to support Māori growth through science collaborations.

At the symposium Hauora Hokianga spoke about their 14-year research relationship with ESR. Their mahi spanned four different projects covering environmental health, and marae waste water and drinking water.

Hauora Hokianga are kaiārahi of the research and bring relationships with local rūnanga and hapū along with kaupapa Māori research methods; as kaihāpai (advocates) ESR bring connections with key local and central government agencies, and their expertise as scientists.

Practical tools to help protect human health were developed such as an on-site wastewater ‘road map’ which sets out stages involved in improving marae on-site wastewater systems including key contacts, resources and helpful hints, that can be disseminated to other hapū/iwi.

A common thread connected many of the stories shared at the symposium: the potential for science to help the Māori economy capture more opportunities

We now have an improved understanding of the different education and outreach programmes supporting Māori, and building the capability and capacity necessary to achieve their aspirations.

At ESR, the symposium helped us better understand what works and what doesn’t work when engaging and working with Māori. It also reinforced other lessons we adopted from other projects.

Since the symposium we have begun to identify which Māori organisations could benefit from closer collaboration with the science sector, and what the sector may need to do to ensure we have the capacity to work successfully with Māori.

Te Ara Putaiao intends on hosting another symposium in 2016, and invite iwi, hapū and whānau Māori wanting more information on and from the science sector to join us.

Nāku te rourou nāu te rourou ka ora ai te iwi

 

Maria Hepi
Social Scientist
ESR

 

Te Ara Pūtaiao 2015 was held in Rotorua, in June 2015. The two-day symposium included presentations by expert scientists and keynote speakers, and research case studies, workshops and discussion sessions designed to strengthen collaborative efforts to realise the potential of Māori land and water resources.

 

Te Puni Kōkiri was a Gold Sponsor of Te Ara Pūtaiao 2015.

 

 

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