Add to collection
  • + Create new collection
  • Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato
    Published 25 July 2022 Referencing Hub media

    Dr Pauline Harris provides insight on aspects of Māori knowledge. Matariki celebrations provide excellent opportunities to share mātauranga with the wider community.

    Statements for discussion:

    • Primarily, tātai arorangi and Māori astronomy is important for Māori and our Pacific whānau.
    • We need to be able to learn and understand each other culturally.


    Dr Pauline Harris

    Astrophysicist, cosmetologist, kairangahau Māori
    Senior Lecturer, Te Kawa a Māui – School of Māori Studies, Victoria University of Wellington
    Chairperson, Society of Māori Astronomy Research and Traditions

    For Māori, there is different types of knowledge – so there’s kauae runga, which is the upper knowledge, and kauae raro, which is the lower knowledge – and only certain people could learn certain types of knowledge. Some celestial knowledge is more sacred than others so not all knowledge was available to everybody.

    For the last 20 years, we’ve focused first and foremost on transferring our knowledge around Māori astronomy to our Māori communities. We have wānanga and we have discussions and hui and meetings with our whānau around the Pacific.

    Now in today’s context, with the creation of the Matariki public holiday, we’re focusing also on being able to share our knowledge with the wider public. And what’s really important about that is that our population's changing. We need to be able to learn and understand each other culturally and understand contextually what our knowledge is and what it’s for.

    For us to get along well, for us to be able to understand and to live with each other, to be respectful of the tangata whenua and mana whenua of these lands is fundamentally important, and it should have been always understood that our mātauranga Māori should be valued and taught to everyone.

    One thing that’s really important to understand is that not all knowledge can be shared with everybody. Primarily, tātai arorangi and Māori astronomy is important for Māori and our Pacific whānau. If you want to compare it to the world of science, certain knowledge will have things that are copyrighted or patented and protected. Not everybody will know certain parts of knowledge because it’s actually not safe. And the same is with Māoridom. Within our Māori knowledge system, certain knowledge should only be taught to certain people that are responsible with it, and for some knowledge, that can protect it.

    What I’m really passionate about is to ensure that mātauranga Māori is included in the curriculum of our schools. I want this to be done respectfully, with correct knowledge, correct thought processes, to be able to create good resources and understandings for teachers. Many will not be Māori who will be teaching our children and all children of Aotearoa. So I think it’s really important to understand the political context but also to understand your role as a teacher to be able to get our mātauranga taught in the most appropriate way.


    Dr Pauline Harris, Victoria University of Wellington and SMART
    Tamariki learning about Matariki and crafting, and singing along with matua Kura Moeahu, from Celebrating Matariki at Parliament, New Zealand Parliament, Crown copyright
    Dr Pauline Harris working with tamariki at primary school and researching microfiche files, Project Mātauranga, Scottie Productions
    Animation of Matariki whetū, Ministry for the Environment, Crown copyright
    New Zealand Intellectual Property Office

        Go to full glossary
        Download all