Mātauranga Māori's role discussed at biosecurity wānanga

By Stefan Dimitrof

A wānanga that focuses on Māori biosecurity practices is taking place in New Plymouth.

Te Tira Whakamātaki', home of the Māori Biosecurity Network, is running the symposium to help communities, industry and agencies, come together in a kaupapa Māori environment, to consider how māori mātauranga can contribute, to the restoration of our natural world.

Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, (Nō Ngāti Kahungunu Ki Wairarapa, Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Te Atiawa) is co-founder and trustee of Te Tira Whakamātaki.

“The term biosecurity is a loose term that encompasses the protection of our environment from any introduced or harmful organism that might impact humans or animals or our environment more broadly,” she said. It also includes things like Covid, possums, rabbits and kauri die back, which are examples of biosecurity in the general sense.

Mark-Shadbolt said the wānanga will have a diverse set of people attending with whānau to agencies and heads of industries.

“We are covering everything from the basics because this is the first hui about mātauranga Māori, what is the biosecurity system, what are the components from pre-border through to establishment.”

“And we are also looking at how are we ensuring Māori are equitably participating in the system and influencing it and how are we bringing mātauranga Māori to the table to find indigenous or Māori solutions.”

Mark-Shadbolt said that Māori can help with biosecurity at the grassroots level by looking for changes in the environment and noting things that look abnormal.

At the next level, Mark-Shadbolt mentions mobilising marae and hapu to work out what good biosecurity looks like for them.