Mātauranga Māori: Perspectives

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'Mātauranga Māori: Perspectives’ is the final report in this series. It contains summaries and extracts from interviews and questionnaires conducted throughout the research. The monograph focuses upon the place and ‘life’ of mātauranga Māori in wider society. It examines the day-to-day use of mātauranga Māori through a number of informal contributions. Throughout the country, teachers, artists, researchers, builders and creators of all kinds use mātauranga Māori in diverse ways. This report captures some of their views and builds up a picture of mātauranga Māori today. In this report we hear from a range of people who use aspects of mātauranga Māori in their work. We also hear about real-world scenarios in which mātauranga Māori is being used. Contributors include teachers, artists, a scientist, a philosopher, education administrators, writers, healers and more. The report is intended to stimulate the gathering of more views and perspectives on mātauranga Māori. We hope that it will provoke continuing interest in the many uses of mātauranga Māori. 

Some key themes emerged in the first group of interviews: 

  • The interviewees all value mātauranga Māori. Many wish it to be pervasive in their lives and in the country as a whole. 
  • Interviewees see the potential applications of mātauranga Māori as unlimited – but they differ about the barriers to its use. Some suggest that societal structures such as the legal system have an inhibiting effect. Others suggest that the real barrier to the growth and use of mātauranga Māori lies with māngere (apathy) among Māori people. 
  • Many interviewees presented their views on mātauranga Māori in the context of ethnic politics and a culture clash between Māori and Pākehā. It appears that ‘mātauranga Māori’ is often used as a synonym for ‘Māori culture’. 
  • A few general statements were difficult to substantiate, e.g. ‘every Māori has a deep sense of longing for mātauranga Māori’. 
  • Many of the interviewees identify mātauranga Māori as adding a spiritual element, a deeper significance, to everyday activities. 
  • The range of common values articulated by interviewees when they speak about mātauranga Māori include aroha, awhi, manaakitanga, tautoko, tiakitanga, whānau and whanaungatanga.

The interviews show that people operate in accordance with mātauranga Māori on many different levels. For many, explaining how they live their lives in terms of mātauranga Māori is difficult, because for them it is a natural way to operate, not something that they have had cause to stand back from and analyse. They act, make choices and behave in certain ways without necessarily labelling what they are doing as ‘mātauranga Māori’. 

Nevertheless, these interviewees have given us a very personal perspective of their understanding of mātauranga Māori. We also encouraged them to consider the challenges and opportunities for the application of mātauranga Māori in their environment. The interviews as a whole highlight ways in which mātauranga Māori is in fact becoming accepted. People are shifting their perceptions and showing a clear desire to seek out such knowledge as a basis for making choices in their lives. 

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Mātauranga Māori: Perspectives
By Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal with Tania Simpson and Sheena Tepania
Published in 2009 by MKTA
(c) MKTA 2009
ISBN: 978-0-9582955-4-3

Digital download, PDF file, 8MB.
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