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How institutions frame mātauranga Māori (Commissioned by Waikato Regional Council)

The primary questions for this report are: 1) How is Mātauranga Māori framed by Institutions? 2) How is Mātauranga Māori being operationalised by Institutions in New Zealand? Mātauranga Māori is the intellectual capital generated by whānau, hapū and Iwi over multiple generations. It is a shared-community knowledge that is embedded in lived experience and carried in stories, song, place names, dance, ceremonies, genealogies, memories, visions, prophesies, teachings and original instructions, as and learnt through observation and copying of other community members. It is a holistic system of orally passed knowledge, concepts, beliefs and practice. Mātauranga Māori, mātauranga ā-iwi, mātauranga ā-hapū, and mātauranga ā-whānau are dynamic, innovative, and generative systems of knowledge. Mātauranga Māori has been defined, framed, and operationalised with varying success by Institutions. Although the overall definitions vary somewhat, the general premise is that these government agencies acknowledge that mātauranga Māori is Māori-specific knowledge that is adaptive and regionally distinct. This recognition is important as it reinforces the notion that Māori are not a homogenous group, and that mātauranga Māori will differ across Iwi. For the vast majority of institutions, improving their understanding of mātauranga Māori is an important strategic aim that can help guide their decision making, management, and monitoring procedures. Achieving this aim helps recognise the innovative potential of Māori knowledge, its contribution to council activities, and the usefulness of culturally appropriate data. This report has identified seven factors that contribute towards a framework of understanding: 1) Acknowledging contemporary relevance and application: Iwi partners value mātauranga Māori not only for its historic significance but its contemporary relevance in times of political change. Legislative requirements, iwi expectations, and a desire to build respectful relationships also contribute to current moves to understand and incorporate mātauranga Māori across regional council planning and decision-making activities. 2) Acknowledging cultural validity: Mātauranga Māori informs not only traditional practices but also Māori and iwi participation within Council activities. 3) Accepting epistemological difference: Eurocentric values and scientific disciplines tend to have primacy in a regional council context in part through historical tendencies and political representation. Mātauranga Māori brings a different value set and way of understanding phenomena to the table. 4) Acknowledging mana whenua responsibility for mātauranga Māori: The management and use of mātauranga represents a core responsibility of mana whenua. Relocating mātauranga and responsibility to act as a kaitiaki from a whānau, hapū or iwi to an institution, is a sensitive topic. Mātauranga is often vested with specific people (kaitiaki) or with local whānau and hapū to ensure the responsibilities for protecting the environment remain with those that live there. 5) Developing a more nuanced understanding of mātauranga Māori: Developing a more nuanced understanding of the different disciplines and content that exist under the broad definition of mātauranga Māori is necessary if Councils are to incorporate mātauranga Māori across a greater range of their work programmes.
Type of thesis
Whaanga, H., Waiti, J., Hudson, M., Williams, J., & Roa, T. (2017). How institutions frame mātauranga Māori (Commissioned by Waikato Regional Council) (Report). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato.
University of Waikato