The Harakeke Project involved identifying traditional knowledge of harakeke and extending this knowledge using science.
Wiremu: What is the role of traditional Māori knowledge in the project?
Stephen Tauwhare (The actual title of the project that I worked on was Harekeke Traditional Knowledge and its Uses. There were two strands to the project. One looked at the traditional knowledge which is associated with harakeke, which is something which has been developed and nurtured by Māori people for hundreds and hundreds of years. There is a large body of knowledge there, over eight hundred years of knowledge that has come down from our tupuna [ancestors].
The other strand of the project was to do with new uses, and that part of the project was about developing the traditional knowledge, or the knowledge that our people have,and taking that and supplementing it with some of the science that we uncovered at IRL [Industrial Research Ltd.] and using that to try and look at the potential of harakeke for new uses, so things like textile productions which I have mentioned and bio-composite materials... those sorts of things, and cosmetic properties as well.