Below is the entirety of an article from the New Zealand Herald, and is relevant to our continuing discussion of Mātauranga Māori (MM), the Māori “way of knowing,” a mixture of practical knowledge (often acquired by trial and error), legend, word of mouth, ideology, theology, morality, and spiritualism. My beef is the continuing demand that the government make MM taught as coequal with modern science in secondary-school and college science classes. It’s not a valid claim, because MM involves far more than what we know of as “science”. But by all means it should be taught as part of the nation’s sociological and anthropological heritage, as it’s the belief system of the first people to settle on the island. But it shouldn’t be taught like it’s the same thing as, or as a complement to, modern science.
Now we hear that Māori advocates of MM are asking for $100 million bucks to use their belief system to combat rising sea levels (note: that’s about $60 million U.S. dollars, but still an immense amount of dosh).
Click on the screenshot to read the brief article:
And here’s the entire text. Note that this appears in New Zealand’s most widely circulated newspaper, but the piece is heavily larded with Māori language, almost none of which can be understood by the average non-Māori resident (this is likely a form of what I call “valorization of the oppressed”, since Māori constitute about 16% of the population, almost equal to the percentage of Asian residents.) At any rate, read on. (my emphasis below)
A contingent of Māori conservation leaders headed to COP27 next month in Egypt is calling for more than $100 million to fund Māori and Pacific initiatives to combat rising sea levels.
COP27 is the latest Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Conservation International NZ vice-president Mere Takoko will host the Māori delegation and says mātauranga Māori about the significance of tohorā to the protection of the climate is high on the agenda.
“Ko Hinemoana te koka atua o te au moana me nga tai. Kei a ia te orangatonutanga o tatou te iwi maori me nga iwi taketake o Hawaiki.”(Hinemoana is one of our sea goddesses. Our oceans are everything as Māori and as people of Hawaiki. Without her we are nothing.)
Te Pāti Māori co-leader, Rawiri Waititi, who hails from the Tai Rāwhiti iwi of Te Whānau a Apanui and Ngāti Porou, who have long-standing traditions involving many species of whales, agrees mātauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge need to be supported.
Blue carbon solution
“Ko te mate kē, kāore te Pākehā e mōhio he aha te take ka tae te tohorā ki uta. Kei a tātou ērā kōrero kua hoki te tohorā ki te kōrero ki ōna tuakana, ki ngā rākau i ōna haerenga katoa i te ao. Me waiho mā te mātauranga Māori me pehea te tiaki i te tohorā. (Pākehā don’t know why whales beach themselves but we do. They come to talk to their peers and to tell of their travels. We know about this, we know how to look after whales.)
“It is very new. We’re looking at all sorts of options. We’re looking at the potential of biodiversity credits and ocean credits.”
Supports funding call
Blue carbon is the carbon dioxide stored in the world’s oceans. It can also describe coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrass meadows and salt marshes.
Overseas research shows these ecosystems can store up to four times more carbon than forests on land can on a per-area basis.
Green Party MP and spokesperson for the Oceans Teanau Tuiono is supportive of Conservation International NZ’s call for increased funding.
“Pai ki a au te whakaaro ki a whai huruhuru te manu kia rere, kia whai rauemi ngā Māori ki te tiaki o rātou whenua, te wao, te maunga, te awa, te moana. Ki te haere mai tētahi rōpū ki te āwhina tērā manako, e tautoko ana.”(I support the notion that there needs to be more funding to support Māori protect their whenua, forests, mountains, rivers and moana. If it means another group coming in to help do that, I’m supportive of that.)
COP 27 will be hosted by the Egypt government at Sharm El Sheik from November 6. Climate Change Minister James Shaw will represent the New Zealand Government.
Note the references to sea goddesses, and especially the claim that Pākehā (New Zealanders of European descent) don’t know why whales beach themselves but the Māori do. It’s so the cetaceans can talk to their peers! But why can’t they talk in the water?
And it is that kind of risible claim that should make funders look on the request for $100 million with a cold eye. What claim do Māori conservationists, as opposed to any other conservationists, have on this fixed sum of money? It seems to me that if proposals are made to combat this very real problem, they should be funded based on merit and likely efficacy, regardless of the ethnicity of who’s asking. Clearly there needs to be substantial funding to prevent this result of global warming, but one should be wary about taking ethnicity into account when judging who gets the money, especially if they give a bogus reason why whales beach themselves and denigrate the knowledge science has in the process.
And of course that kind of “knowledge” isn’t really knowledge at all: that’s why it shouldn’t be taught in science classes. As ex-pastor Mike Aus (now a non-believer, said—and this is part of his quote at the head of chapter 4 of Faith versus Fact,
“There are not different ways of knowing. There is knowing and not knowing, and those are the only two options in this world.”
Well, we know some reasons why whales beach themselves, but it’s not to have a chinwag on the sand with their mates.