Vision Mātauranga: partnering to create a new tomorrow
Last year, thanks to the initial work and foresight of Desi Ramoo, we began a relationship with Nihi Houia and Ron Hough of Ngā Hononga Marae (Charitable) Trust in Whanganui. Nihi and Ron visited us in Wellington and then in turn welcomed us in Whanganui. Very quickly it was evident that they shared our vision of a strong and integrated approach to community, education and building a strong future for New Zealand and its people through sharing and exchanging knowledge and perspectives. We formalised our relationship through an MOU and immediately began to work together to explore initiatives.
At our public forum, A Place to Live in November last year, Ron formally welcomed us and the delegates onto the marae in Jerusalem, a magical place up the Whanganui river, and this marked for me at least, our public commitment to working together.
The Trust is very ambitious in its goals – they aim to work with people in their community to quite radically change their lives and in doing so deliver benefit to them as individuals and the community as a whole and also to New Zealand on multiple fronts. They speak of Flaxroots Growth and how education and science are the keys to their envisioned transformation.
Together we are exploring three areas:
- using science to build and grow Māori businesses;
- using science to ignite a passion in our tamariki for education and through them reach out to their whanau and create a community of participation in life-long education, by working directly with a school to develop a science work programme;
- the integration of mātauranga Māori and advanced materials and nanotechnology – maybe a seemingly harder area to tackle but something we believe we can make some headway in by for example leveraging off the educational approach with our tamariki using our work in sensors and energy as the entry points.
Over the summer we began to actively deliver on our first area of exploration. We supported two undergraduate science students; Te Amorangi Rikirangi-Thomas and Pupunu Tukuafu to work with the Trust and in particular, Ron and Kelly, who manages the businesses, in helping them use science to advance their practice in the mushroom farm, compost business and aquaculture opportunities that the Trust has just started to explore. Te Amorangi and Pupunu worked with Ron and Kelly to introduce some scientific foundation into their processes and in doing so significantly enhanced the quality of the products being produced. Ron says that his thinking and approach were dramatically challenged and changed by working with Te Amorangi and Pupunu – and people have noticed his changed language as well and he freely acknowledges the contributions that Te Amorangi and Pupunu and science have made to the advancement of their businesses. Both Te Amorangi and Pupunu equally acknowledge the benefit that they have gained personally from spending the summer in Whanganui working with the Trust and applying their science knowledge to a growing business venture.
Our work with the Trust is very new but we are also exploring how we can build on other activities that we have been involved in for the past several years. For example. Alison Downard, our Deputy Director Stakeholder Engagement is working with our Investigators to identify students who have participated in our Discovery Awards and who are now at University to consider how we can continue to support their participation and success in their education and to become active role of role models to others.
Through these activies we are growing strong partnerships and working to realise our Vision Mātauranga ambitions.
That’s it from me – have a great weekend everyone