QRW_Jane Mullaney_DC_JM.pdf (2.94 MB)

Working at the interface of mātauranga Māori and science

Download (2.94 MB)
conference contribution
posted on 2023-09-14, 03:25 authored by Jane MullaneyJane Mullaney

The whanaungatanga principle means everything is connected to everything else and our Māori knowledge system is centrifugal or outwards focused while science is centripetal, or inward looking to the components of that bigger holistic system. Everything within our world impacts on our environment, on each other and on all living things and there is the outward flow of energy connecting us and making us known and understood through our connections, the past, the present. Our knowledge systems are not incompatible but perspective specific.

In understanding the use of our indigenous organisms, again, the purpose of rongoā Māori is to heal ailments. Yet knowledge was lost when our language was lost. Restoration of Te Reo has helped rebuild some of the knowledge and we are still piecing together our fragments of mātauranga to see if we can fill in the gaps of our lost knowledge.

In the past and present, much of the research that has focused around rongoa has had a commercial purpose and the reason for this has also been that much of the funding comes from the government who require financial benefits from investment in research either by one or more of the four Vision Mātauranga themes, indigenous innovation and distinctive R&D, taiao, hauora and mātauranga Māori. Unfortunately, few Māori are actively involved in research and in the past, research was carried out without any due diligence or process to ensure the protection of Māori taonga and kaitiakitanga was not respected. Māori were benefitting from rongoā for generations and yet information about the bioactive components that presumably give the rongoā some of its potency is often not in the public domain. As a scientist and Māori, I welcome this shift to sharing our science on indigenous organisms and celebrating our unique culture and heritage that is Aotearoa.


National Science Challenge High-Value Nutrition


Rights statement

This is an open-access output. It may be used, distributed or reproduced in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Publication date


Project number

  • Non revenue


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No


AgResearch Ltd

Conference name

Queenstown Research Week (QMB 2023)

Conference location

Queenstown, New Zealand

Conference start date


Conference end date


Usage metrics



    Ref. manager