Initiative aimed at drawing on Māori knowledge to drive change on farms

AgResearch has just launched a new Māori Research and Partnerships Group to embed Te Ara Tika into its everyday work.

Te Ara Tika is a framework for researchers and ethics committee members developed by Pūtaiora (Māori members of ethics committees) and the National Ethics Advisory Committee (NEAC).

Chair of the new group Ariana Estoras said it will incorporate the knowledge system of Mātauranga Māori to help support positive change in farming practices.

“Some have viewed Mātauranga Māori as somehow diluting or being out of step with the science we’ve always done in Aotearoa. Some of this seems to be based on a lack of understanding and therefore an inability to see the value we can create.

“Our approach is centred around the strength of having more than one knowledge system contributing to solutions for some of the most complex challenges facing our communities.”

One way of looking at it is having the benefit of a `wise old head’ who has gathered knowledge not just from formal settings but also from life experience learning and interacting with farming and the natural world, Estoras said.

She said AgResearch and the new Māori Research and Partnerships Group would strive to add knowledge and impact to the important science it has always done.

“So we can respond with Māori to their needs and aspirations, but also help provide better solutions to farmers and all of society in Aotearoa.

“The environmental challenges for farmers and Aotearoa as a whole are obviously front and centre right now, and I have no doubt that this is an area where Mātauranga Māori can enhance what the science already has to offer where it comes to best use of productive land, water quality and reducing the climate change impact.”