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Mātauranga and science join forces in new research

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Mātauranga and science join forces in a new Te Pūnaha Matatini research programme

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) recently announced that it has awarded $100,000 in funding towards a project that aims to improve the way in which scientists work with and engage with Māori.

Dr Tara McAllister, an environmental scientist with the University of Auckland, is leading the project and working alongside ecologist Dr Cate Macinnis-Ng and earth systems scientist Dr Daniel Hikuroa, Principal Investigators with Te Pūnaha Matatini at the University of Auckland.

The project’s funding comes under MBIE’s Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund, and the project team will partner with Mahaanui Kurataiao Limited, an environmental and resource management advisory firm based in Canterbury.

Dr Macinnis-Ng says that while there are some great examples of New Zealand scientists engaging well with Māori communities, there are some other instances where they have struggled to connect.

“We want to look at how we make those interactions more successful, more productive, and more workable for everybody involved,” Dr Macinnis-Ng says. “So we are going to co-develop a project with an Iwi group, where we'll look at what their science needs are, and work out who in our field can deliver those things. By co-developing the project, it's all about what the needs are of that group, rather than imposing what scientists want to do.”

The researchers plan to conduct the project in a reflective way so they can better understand and think about what works for the different parties involved. They will also develop appropriate te reo science curriculum materials for schools.

“We’ll be developing some teaching materials for kura kaupapa to make science more accessible to everyone,” says Dr Macinnis-Ng.

Shaun Hendy, Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini and Professor of Physics at the University of Auckland, says the project will be very important to the Centre’s wider research programme.

“Building close engagement with Māori communities and learning about the mātauranga of complex systems is a wonderful opportunity for us,” says Hendy. “Not only will this project be essential to us in meeting our research goals, it will also provide social, economic, and environmental benefits to Aotearoa New Zealand.”

About Te Pūnaha Matatini:

Te Pūnaha Matatini ( is a Centre of Research Excellence hosted by the University of Auckland. Its broad aim is to develop novel methods that enable the transformation of complex environmental, economic and social data into knowledge, tools and insights for making better decisions.

About Mahaanui Kurataiao Limited:

Mahaanui Kurataiao Limited ( is an environmental and resource management advisory firm established by the six Rūnanga in the Canterbury region of the South Island. Its aims include enhancing and improving the recognition and protection of mana whenua values in their takiwā.


MBIE Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund Success Stories:


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