Again, as part of my research into Maori and Science… I came across a book that celebrates Maori scientists. It is quite an old publication now (1996), but still interesting in that it was another person promoting the importance of role modeling through sharing the stories of those who have gone before (In his Introduction (p.5), Dr Ngātata Love writes: “The Māori profiled here provide excellent role models for all Māori youth, especially when they are making decisions about their future. When you read these profiles you will see that certain events and people had a profound influence on the subjects and their decision to take up science, mathematics or technology as a career. At school some of these people were denied opportunities to develop their latent interests in these fields and it is pleasing to read about those who were able to rediscover their interests once they had left school. Many had to overcome the negative expectations and attitudes of teachers and other students, including their school friends. Of particular note is the fact that several have identified particular teachers as having had a profound effect in helping to develop a passion for science and mathematics. …Their examples will provide inspiration for future generations and this will help to avoid the alienation and cultural incongruity that many Māori have experienced in the past within schools and universities.”).
Rongoa Maori research
Something else that caught my eye was the work of Maryanne Cheryl Baker (Nga Puhi/ Ngati Wai/ Whaingaroa) (pp.10-13). Paula Martin writes that:
“Maryanne left the MBA course when she returned homne and has now completed a Master of Pharmacy through Otago University. This course has given her the opportunity to explore rongoa Maori in more detail and her dissertation is one of the first pieces of research written on traditional Maori medicine. Her approach was to interview 18 people in the Bay of Islands area about the use of rongoa.” (p.12, no macrons in original)
Martin quotes Maryanne to explain further: “What I did was I deliberately chose, before they all passed on, people who were ariki, or chiefly lines, or from tohunga lines who I knew practised Maori medicine. …I am pleased I did it. I broke the barrier of all those other people saying, ‘That’s the taonga tapu, you can’t do it.’ But I had the support of my father and the respondents. While Maori talk about intellectual property rights, they say nothing can be written down. I’ve changed that now because these people want to die, with their word living. I was honest and up front with them and I said, ‘This knowledge, I’ll write it down, it will be printed so when you’re dead and gone, you have left your taonga and your mokopuna will know your gift.’ Because that’s what the big cry of Maoridom is, it’s not being passed on. So who’s going to do that for them? These Maori are happy as their word will live like that of the Paipera Tapu [Bible] and they have honoured these tupuna and/or tohunga who had the gift to heal them.” (p.12 quoting Maryanne Cheryl Baker)
I wonder how easy it is to access her thesis?!
Ref: Paula Martin (1996) He Tiro Arotahi kit e Pūtaiao, te Pāngarau me te Hangarau: Māori Into Science, Maths and Technology. Te Puni Kōkiri Ministry of Māori Development: Wellington.