Wehi, P. M., Whaanga, H. & Roa, T. (2009). Missing in translation: Maori language and oral tradition in scientific analyses of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). Journal of Royal Society of New Zealand, 39(4), 201-204.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/3460
Recent conceptual shifts in ecology towards integration of humans into ecosystems requires all possible sources of ecological knowledge available (Berkes 2004, 2009 this issue). Māori traditional ecological knowledge of natural systems (TEK) can add valuable ecological data to more conventional scientific studies as the former tends to be diachronic, based on a cumulative system of understanding the environment founded on observations and experience (Gadgil et al. 1993; Berkes 2008), while the latter is frequently synchronic, with experiments that may explore causal effects in ecological patterns (Newman & Moller 2005; Moller et al. 2009a). However accessing TEK can be both difficult and time-consuming, as demonstrated by the 14-year research project Kia Mau Te Tītī Mo Ake Tonu Atu (the ‘Keep the Tītī Forever’ research project; Moller et al. 2009a). We argue that oral traditions offer a wealth of information that is frequently overlooked, in part because of a lack of knowledge of te reo Māori (the Māori language) and, further, a lack of recognition of the inextricable link between biological and cultural diversity (Maffi 2005).
Royal Society of New Zealand
© The Royal Society of New Zealand 2009. Used with permission.