Māori biologist nominated for Matariki Award

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Māori biologist and academic Professor Michael Walker is one of two finalists in the Te Tupu-ā-rangi award for Health and Science at this year's Matariki Awards.

Michael Walker uses contemporary science to understand traditional ancestral knowledge. He says there was never any doubt about his path.

“I was always going to be a scientist I always knew it and it was a case then of which science.”

His research investigates the mechanisms of the lunar and tidal rhythms in marine organisms.

“I heard it being ridiculed, but in fact, 50 years later it's being recognised now that Polynesians had known about it probably for several thousand years.”

Michael was one of the first to instigate a Māori mentoring initiative at the University of Auckland to foster Māori and Pacific tertiary students.

“When I left to do my PhD there were 10,000 students at the university, when I came back there were 30,000 but there weren't any more Māori and Pacific Island kids. I never saw them and I knew then that something was wrong with the university so we said well what can we do?”

Son of the late Dr. Ranginui Walker, Michael Walker believes research plays a vital role in being Māori.

“Well research is how you find knew things to understand and what happens is that if you're not thinking about what you want in the future you're actually just sitting still. What you need to be doing is thinking about the world around you.”

The awards will be held on at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Friday 21 July.