Two ministerial press statements today draw attention to the Government’s incorporation of mātauranga Māori in its science policies and programmes.
One of these announced the launch of the national space policy, which will oblige our space boffins to bring indigenous knowledge into their considerations.
The national policy document tells us:
- As part of informing diverse space policies and sector development initiatives, the New Zealand government will engage mātauranga Māori expertise.
- Mātauranga Māori and space are deeply connected, with space representing whakapapa (genealogical links to the beginning of the universe), wairuatanga (the spiritual connection between Earth and the universe, derived from Māori cosmology), and tātai arorangi (Māori knowledge of astronomy). The New Zealand government encourages inclusive collaborations with individuals or groups who are currently underrepresented in the space sector (including but not limited to Māori) and for these collaborations to work toward sustainable outcomes. The New Zealand government will also strive to further understand and assess representation across the space sector, to best direct inclusive collaboration opportunities.
The statement from Kelvin Davis is laced with te reo and – when it comes to telling us about matauranga Māori – becomes incomprehensible for readers who do not speak that language.
Teaching at the wharekura will be conducted in te reo Māori and will deliver a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) programme supported by mātauranga Māori. This reflects Ngā Pōtiki ki Uta Ngā Pōtiki ki Tai – mai ngā kāhui maunga ki te moana: Tauranga Moana, Tauranga tangata: Te Arawa waka Te Arawa tangata: Mai ngā pae maunga ki te moana.
The cost of this particular project is not stated but Davis says boosting Māori education is a focus for the Hipkins Government, as shown in the recent Budget where $225 million went into areas including more classrooms and learning support.
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Coyne , Emeritus Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, had been addressing the question: Can mātauranga Māori help us understand climate change?
His response – based on his analysis of a video lecture and Q&A session by a Māori climate scientist – was an emphatic “no”.
This analysis is the subject of an article of almost 2000 words. Readers can find it – and a link to the video lecture which he dissects – here.
Since this is a half-hour lecture by a credentialed Māori climate-change scientist, I take it to be the best case that can be made for infusing MM into modern science, at least in terms of climate change. And the case is not only weak, but non-existent. There is no “there” there.
Let me emphasize that by criticizing MM as a valuable contribution to modern science, I am not criticizing the Māori people themselves, who had a rough time of it, but are now reaping reparations in the form of affirmative action, jobs, grants, and the like. But I will argue that their “way of knowing” is way overemphasized, and that the government and academic powers of New Zealand, in a desire to cater to “the sacred victim,” are being sold a bill of goods.
But New Zealanders are disinclined to challenge what they are being sold, partly because of indifference, perhaps, but in too many cases because they don’t want to be denounced as racists.
Barbara Edmonds, in her statement, said NZ’s space sector is growing rapidly.
“Each year New Zealand is becoming a more and more attractive place for launches, manufacturing space-related technology and conducting space science and research,” Barbara Edmonds said.
“With the launch of our National Space Policy, we’re presenting a clear and connected picture of New Zealand’s space interests to the world.”
The policy identifies stewardship, innovation, responsibility, and partnership as key values for New Zealand in space.
This – it turns out – includes the highly contentious concept of a Treaty partnership, although Edmonds does not mention matauranga Māori in her press statement. Its place in the scheme of things is embedded in the policy document.
She said the National Space Policy is led by robust objectives of:
- Growing an innovative and inclusive space sector
- Protecting and advancing our national security and economic interests
- Regulating to ensure space activities are safe and secure
- Promoting the responsible use of space internationally
- Modelling sustainable space and Earth environments
Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis said the school for “Year 7-13 designated character wharekura” to be built in Pāpāmoa (a “school” is our guess) will focus on science, mathematics and creative technologies
“… while connecting ākonga to the whakapapa of the area.
“The decision follows an application by the Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore Trust and a consultation process.
“The wharekura will initially have a maximum roll of 72 ākonga. Its establishment recognises the importance of Wairuatanga that is deeply embedded within the marae communities of the Bay of Plenty – Waiariki District,” Kelvin Davis said.
Teaching will be conducted in te reo Māori and will deliver a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) programme supported by mātauranga Māori.
The government’s goal is to grow the number of Māori learners in Māori Medium and Kaupapa Māori Education to 30% by 2040.
Here’s hoping at least some of them go on to contribute their expertise to developing New Zealand’s space industry.
Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton