International recognition for Maori Scientists
International recognition for Ngâ Pae o te Mâramatanga and Mâori scientists
13 November 2007
AUCKLAND, New Zealand
The current issue of one of the world's top two science magazines has hailed New Zealand scientist Professor Michael Walker's groundbreaking discoveries in animal navigation and profiled the unique role of the Mâori Centre of Research Excellence, Ngâ Pae o te Mâramatanga, in creating a "home for Mâori science".
Science says Professor Walker's work on how birds and other animals detect and use magnetic fields to navigate over vast distances has shaped research in the field.
US researcher Joseph Kirschvink of the California Institute of Technology told Science: "If there is ever a Nobel Prize for magnetic field perception, Walker's name will be on it."
The magazine also reports the success of Ngâ Pae o te Mâramatanga, of which Professor Walker is a founding joint director, in supporting Mâori scientists and helping boost the numbers of Mâori PhD students from a handful in 2002 to over 500.
Professor Walker, who is also a member of the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Auckland, said the recognition of the science and of a distinctively Mâori contribution from such a prestigious journal was highly welcome.
"Every culture brings its own value and perspective to research. At Ngâ Pae o te Mâramatanga we are tapping into the currently very under-used potential of the Mâori contribution, and we are delighted to see how strongly this is growing."
Discoveries on differing rates of evolution in the tropics by another scientist, Dr Shane Wright, whose work was fully funded by the CoRE, were reported this year in The Economist and the Guardian and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.