Mātauranga Māori marks a new frontier of research

By Raniera Harrison

A leading academic says an increased focus on mātauranga Māori is signalling a new frontier of research.

This was a key speaking point highlighted at the Toi Tangata Hui Ā Tau for those working in the Māori health and wellbeing sector.

Dr. Ihirangi Heke (Waikato-Tainui) says, "A new world order for us as Māori, where other indigenous are looking to us for leadership."

Around 100 delegates gathered in Ngunguru, Northland today for the Toi Tangata Annual Conference.

The hui presented an opportunity to analyse the importance of mātauranga Māori in a contemporary context.

"We're really lucky with our speakers and the people that have come because they're really passionate about this kaupapa and I think one of the reasons they have more energy is these people practise what they preach" adds Megan Tunks, CEO of Toi Tangata.

Conference speaker, Raniera Rewiri believes conferences like this provide a space for Māori to seek rationalisation for the contemporary world - through traditional practises.

"It's so hard to comprehend this paradigm that we're living in, in Te Ao Mārama - it's pretty hard to comprehend what's happening, but I feel mātauranga Māori gives us as Māori a way to try and comprehend what this actually is" says Rewiri.

 Māori online sensation, Hana Tapiata strongly agrees.

Tomorrow, she will present at the conference speaking about the relevance in today's society of pūrākau Māori and the place they hold as repositories of ancestral knowledge. 

"These aren't just stories to put our babies to sleep, or to energise children. These are ancestral teachings that have a foundation to ensure the wellbeing of the people" says Tapiata.

Dr. Heke says that in five years time, tribal specific teachings will be sought and take centre stage, and a further five years from that hapū-specific teachings will be at the fore.

"We need to keep pushing on for exercising our right as Māori to showcase our whakapapa - the only way we're going to be able to do that is show differences" says Dr. Heke.

The annual conference will wrap up tomorrow.