The beating heart of mātauranga Māori
In 2019, in a two-part special issue of New Zealand Science Review, guest editors Dr Ocean Mercier (Ngāti Porou) and associate professor Anne-Marie Jackson (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Kahu) dedicated the entire journal to covering the increasing integration of mātauranga Māori and western science in Aotearoa. The special issue created a space to share the experiences of researchers “working with mātauranga alongside New Zealand science”.
In their introduction, the editors succinctly captured what mātauranga is and the growing recognition of its value to the research, science and innovation sector in New Zealand: “Increasingly mātauranga Māori – encompassing Māori knowledge, Māori methods of knowledge creation and Māori ways of knowing – is being consulted, aligned with or brought into conversation with science.”
But 20 years earlier, the environment was not as welcoming of mātauranga Māori. In the early 2000s a group of Māori academics came together out of concern for the way mātauranga Māori was largely hidden in back rooms and niche projects – often cast off as a pseudoscience. They were concerned that Māori scholars were largely isolated within the world of academia. Isolated within disciplines. Isolated within research projects. Isolated within institutions. They wanted to create a collective vision and strategy for the future of Māori research guided by mātauranga.