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NZIMMR awarded Vision Mātauranga research funding

The New Zealand Institute for Minerals to Materials Research received yesterday approval for its

Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund proposal, which is aimed at repurposing pounamu carving waste.

Green to Gold – Understanding ourselves and our Māori partnerships through a pounamu lens” has had approval for $100,000 of funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and employment.

Co-funded by the NZIMMR, the project’s purpose is twofold:

• To develop the capability of NZIMMR researchers to feel confident and competent when working with Māori, such as West Coast iwi Ngāti Waewae; and
• To explore the potential of repurposing pounamu waste into 2nd Generation materials, such as 3D printed or injection-moulded products, or as a strategic additive for composite materials such as concrete.

Dr Nancy Garrity (Ngāti Pāoa and Ngāti Hine), the project lead says: “When you carve pounamu it generates quite a lot of dust and waste material. Part of the kaitiakitanga (stewardship) train of thought is we like to use every part of a resource. We are looking to develop another material out of it.”

Ngāti Waewae Arahura (Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae), had been stockpiling pounamu waste against the day that new uses for it could be found.

One research objective is to see whether the aesthetics of pounamu can be restored to the stone, in addition to restoring to pounamu carving waste its mana (prestige) and mauri (essence).

The support of Te Rūnanga O Ngāti Waewae chairman Francois Tumahai in developing the research project is gratefully acknowledged.

The NZIMMR will now work towards developing contracts for the research work, and confirming the milestones and budget. Initially, work was proposed to start in June, however, this is being reassessed, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions.

MBIE’s public statement on the project funding says, “True, meaningful relationships are developed over a shared empathy of both the Māori and non-Māori world view. However, this empathy is sorely lacking from many current collaborations.”

The research will align whakapapa (ties of kinship), kaitiakitanga (stewardship) and mātauranga

(knowledge, wisdom) based on an Ao Māori (Māori world view) perspective.

“While looking to produce value added, unique injection-moulded or customisable products and packaging (e.g. waka huia (treasure boxes or containers), culturally inspired jewellery) that promote brand Māori and therefore brand NZ,” Dr Garrity says.

“This proposal acknowledges the true value of te ao Māori and its mātauranga. It will develop scientific capacity and connection for our Māori partners. It also acknowledges the commitment that NZIMMR has towards its own vision mātauranga strategy and relationships with Māori and non- Māori alike.”

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