Dr. Mahina-a-rangi Baker (Ātiawa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa) runs Te Kōnae, a Māori environmental consultancy that supports iwi and hapū all over the country, and also works providing advice to government on environmental issues. Currently she is reviewing the governments proposed reform of the Resource Management Act. The work that takes up most of her time is working as the Environment Manager for Āti Awa ki Whakarongotai. She is a lecturer in Kaitiakitanga Pūtaiao (Māori Science) at Te Wānanga o Raukawa. Her PhD is in Environmental Planning and her thesis was focused on mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) tools for modelling water catchments. She has also been closely involved in the development of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 in her role on the Kāhui Wai Māori.
A Māori knowledge odyssey: Coming home to Māori methods of catchment modelling
Wednesday 1 Dec | 8:30 am
‘The Odyssey’ is great way to think about the long and challenging journey for Māori to return the nation’s way of thinking about water back to the knowledge system that is indigenous to our home, to Aotearoa. We have finally arrived at ‘Te Mana o te Wai’; a Māori conceptualisation of the principles of practice in caring for water and managing the impact of human activities on it.
The embedding of Te Mana o te Wai in our statutory framework includes the requirement to ‘enable the application of a diversity of systems of values and knowledge, such as mātauranga Māori, to the management of freshwater.’ But in a context where New Zealand academics have continued to marginalise or reject Māori knowledge and science, the eurocentric scientific tradition’s myths about the supremacy of their knowledge system clearly needs busting.
I will share a local example of Māori science and knowledge being applied through catchment scenario modelling that is being used to support the implementation of the national objectives framework of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, whilst examining some key questions such as:
• What is mātauranga Māori and science?
• How can mātauranga Māori incorporate western scientific modelling approaches and methods such as systems thinking and Bayesian statistics?
• What is the contribution that mātauranga Māori can make to key scientific challenges in water modelling, such as integrating ecological and social considerations, or handling uncertainty?