Māori, indigenous researchers share their people's issues at virtual conference

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

More than 150 indigenous researchers across the world have been sharing their insights for the future at the 10th International Indigenous Research Conference taking place this week.

Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga - New Zealand's Centre of Māori Research Excellence - is virtually hosting indigenous researchers from Taiwan, the United States, Norway and Canada to consider issues that impact Indigenous communities such as climate justice, health equity, human rights, social rights and indigenous data sovereignty.

With the four-day conference finished, co-director Tahu Kukutai says one of her standouts from the conference included Te Hiku Media’s presentation on te reo Māori tagging technologies.

“What I loved about it is that they’re bringing tikanga, mātauranga, knowledge from their kaumātua, data science, and they’re putting it together to decolonise technology in a way that brings benefit to the reo and their communities,” she says.

More indigenous representation at the problem-solving table.

Kukutai says it’s important to have different ways of thinking about solutions to the many problems facing Indigenous people around the world.  

“You get creatives working alongside scientists, social researchers and community knowledge holders. The thing that gels them together – they’re all there for a common kaupapa.

“I think it’s really timely that some people move out of the way and let indigenous researchers lead in spaces where we can.”

Kukutai also heard from a representative of the Sami people in Norway in relation to data sovereignty. Although the context is different, Kukutai says the aspirations of Māori are similar.

“We can have frank and open discussions. You can learn what others are doing to adapt and see what is good for our own context, and what won’t work.

“Regardless of where researchers come from, there is also a lot to learn.”

Kukutai says an impact of the conference is that indigenous researchers are doing mahi for communities, not themselves.

“I think that’s where the real impact is of this indigenous research, is that it’s actually done with the wellbeing of the community in mind.”