Mātauranga Māori is a living resource. A body of knowledge that has been accumulated over time and develops and grows in response to our changing world.
In its simplest form mātauranga Māori uses kawa (cultural practices) and tikanga (cultural principles) to examine and understand the world. It is a distinctive view of relationship between people and environment and draws from three baskets of knowledge:
- Te Kete Tuāuri (ritual knowledge);
- Te Kete Tuāutea (eternal knowledge); and
- Te Kete Aronui (secular knowledge).
Unlocking the potential of this knowledge base in research and innovation is undoubtedly beneficial, but more crucially, recognises Māori as important partners in shaping the future of Aotearoa.
The unique relationship between Māori and the environment can not be underestimated, and can help make the welfare of our environment part of everyone’s personal journey.
This is because Māori have a deep connection to the physical world around them through their whakapapa, or genealogical origins, evolution and history. This relationship to the natural world comes with deep responsibility and connection not only for the ‘now’ but the ‘500 years from now’. A concept that HERA embraces wholeheartedly in our own vision to secure tomorrows industry by innovating today.
Recognising Te Tiriti o Waitangi
Embracing te ao Māori represents an opportunity for businesses to have a unique perspective on the world that brings cultural purpose. It creates a secure environment for its Māori workforce. It increases cultural capability. It also is a chance for businesses to communicate more fluently with Māori businesses.
The reasons why a business would go down this path, is fundamentally captured in the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which in turn ensures the economic wellbeing of Aotearoa for our future generations. More and more, it is becoming important for businesses to recognise that the growing Māori workforce and Māori capital needs to move from the margins to the core of our economy – and quickly.
To do this, laws and policy will need to be developed to capture Māori potential. Businesses will also need to follow through by making this part of their DNA and what they stand for. Weaving the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi into workplace practises allows a business to gear up to meet these challenges.
The intersection between Mātauranga Māori and Construction 4.0
We believe Construction 4.0 could benefit from the interface with Mātauranga Māori. This is because the unique epistemology of Mātauranga Māori holds value that is not widely represented in many of the physical, applied and practical sciences within New Zealand.
In this sense, it offers a valuable management tool for design, construction, monitoring, policy and planning perspectives. There is considerable potential within the design of management systems to acknowledge and include matauranga Maori including kaitiakitanga (stewardship), and promotion of mauri (life force/spiritual health).
Achieving inter-connection and data driven decisions that also takes into account mātauranga Māori provides an opportunity to start out with a more inclusive approach… to start out in a new way and with broader thinking than we would typically apply to a new endeavour.
We are very excited to have this opportunity to partner with Pūhoro Charitable Trust and invest in developing new ways of doing research, in partnership. There is certainly a lot of Māori knowledge that is being missed in the typical research process and it is a failure of the prevailing research paradigm that indigenous knowledge is typically under-utilised or unacknowledged.
This is even more important as over 19,000 Māori work in the construction sector, which is the fourth largest employer of Māori following manufacturing, health care and social service, education and training. In addition to this, around one in five Māori who are self-employed work in the construction sector.
Why should we look at our work through a mātauranga Māori lens?
There are always multiple ways to get a job done. Just because we’ve always done it one way – it doesn’t make any of the other ways less valid. In fact, if we allow ourselves to explore the other approaches – we may find they have the potential to improve upon our current process. This at its core is innovation.
When it comes to applying this thought process to view points of te ao pakeha (European world) and te ao Māori (Māori world) view points, we find there is more resistance. This is because we’ve been taught to think in a very traditional, systematic and methodical way.
In fact, we’re so used to western concepts of research, innovation and knowledge development, that it makes it hard for us to understand and accept alternative approaches and viewpoints. Due to its holistic nature, mātauranga Māori pushes this discomfort. It seems scaringly metaphorical and relational, which are concepts that don’t fit within the traditional definition of western science, knowledge, and ways of thinking.
A common misconception is that mātauranga Māori doesn’t incorporate science, which is not accurate. It also has systematic, investigative, or experimental elements to it… it is just undertaken differently and viewed through a lens that is definitely broader and more holistic than we are used to.
“Perhaps a good way to point this out, is by looking at the difference between the Hawaikians and the Europeans and the way that each approached the task of finding Aotearoa. For the former, their method was to embed their navigational system in the natural rhythms around them – the rise and fall of the stars, the run of the ocean, the prevailing winds, the patterns of marine fauna. The Europeans, however, favoured the careful calculation of abstract lines on a paper representation of the globe. For them, the answer lay in transcending the natural rhythms of the planet. What is important to note, is that both systems worked.” (https://www.wai262.nz/)
Neither was superior to the other, but acknowledging both leads to mutual respect, cultural diversity of knowledge and sometimes, opportunities for improvement and learnings.