Antarctic science to be grounded in mātauranga Māori

By Jessica Tyson

Advisory group Kāhui Māori will be taking a vital role in protecting and guiding the upcoming Antarctic and climate adaptation research.

Kāhui Māori will share its knowledge with the Antarctic Science Platform to help guide the Deep South Challenge: Changing with our Climate programme, aimed at supporting New Zealanders to adapt, manage risk and thrive in a changing climate.

Associate professor at Waikato University and chair of Kāhui Māori Sandy Morrison says it is important to raise the status of mātauranga Māori in climate change science.

“Particularly when we’re working with scientists because there’s no one single solution and no one uniform solution and we bring a relational world view to everything we do,” she says.

“The other reason is because New Zealand has been working in Antarctica particularly since the Antarctic Treaty was signed in the late 1950s and where the Treaty goes, Māori goes and our world view goes.”

The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by 12 nations; New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the United States, and the Soviet Union. The treaty made the Antarctic continent a demilitarised zone to be preserved for scientific research. Later other nations acceded to the treaty.

Kāhui Māori is looking forward to beginning discussions on how to ensure Antarctic science is both cognisant of and increasingly grounded in mātauranga Māori.

“Solving problems as complex as climate change requires multiple pieces of knowledge. There is an historic under-representation of Māori in modern research conducted in the Antarctic and Southern Oceans," she says.

One of the goals of the Deep South Challenge is to improve understanding of sea ice, clouds and ocean in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean region.

Researchers will also focus on climate impacts in Aotearoa.

Antarctic Science Platform Director Nancy Bertler says the platform is delighted to have the support of Kāhui Māori.

“We are privileged to be able to share the Kāhui’s wealth of knowledge and work closely with our friends and colleagues at the Deep South Challenge,” she says.

Kāhui Māori members also include Darren Ngaru King, Aimee Kaio, Shaun Awatere, Naomi Simmonds and Ruia Aperahama.