A new paper presages the death of science in New Zealand

April 30, 2023 • 12:00 pm

Here’s a paper from the journal Environment and Planning F:Philosophy, Theory, Models, Methods and Practice that one can take as the definitive statement of the value of indigenous “ways of knowing” (mātauranga Māori, or MM) in New Zealand, and why they are at least as good as, but less “harmful” than, colonialist Western knowledge. Nearly all the authors save Tara McAllister are on the Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland, which used to be (note past tense) the best university in New Zealand. This paper is a dreadful and nearly impenetrable piece of work, but I went through it, and I’m here to tell you several things:

a. This paper does not tell us how Pūtaiao, defined as “Kaupapa Māori science” (the Māori are of course the descendants of Polynesians who peopled New Zealand when Europeans arrived and settled), will actually operate, except that it’s supposed to be the special purview of Māori, and non-Māori can’t properly practice it. (“Kaupapa Māori science” is defined in the glossary—yes, the is one—as science done according to “Māori approaches, principles, and vision”. ) There is not ONE EXAMPLE of Kaupapa Māori science showing its distinctness from modern science, or how it will supplement or be superior to modern science.

b. The paper shows us how heavily the academic version of MM has been influenced by French postmodernism. This accounts not only for several features of Pūtaiao, like intersectionality and standpoint epistemology, as well as by the claim that science is deeply and thoroughly infected with racism and genocide, but also explains why the paper is written in a way that is nearly impossible to understand. I used to reject claims that those who pushed Māori ways of knowing were infected with postmodernism, but this paper makes it clear that at least those academics who defend these ways of knowing are postmodernists.

c. The paper is replete with victimology and virtue flaunting, beginning with each of the authors identifying their sub-tribe of Māori at the outset, ending with a long description of the biographies of the authors (their standpoints), and, most obviously, being heavily larded with Māori language throughout (remember that 16.5% of New Zealanders are Māori, only 1% less than the percentage of Asians in the country, while Europeans are about 72%).   Moreover, those who speak Māori are much rarer: as Newshub notes,

Te reo Māori [the Māori language], listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as ‘vulnerable’, is only proficiently spoken by around one in 100 New Zealanders. Another 2.7 percent are able to hold a basic conversation, according to census figures – all up that’s around 185,000 people.

The fact that you can’t understand this paper without a glossary unless you’re one of the 1-3% of Kiwis who speak Māori, combined with its constant claims of victimization of indigenous people and of the evil deeds of Western science and scientists, makes this effort a prime example of “the authority of the sacred victim.” But victimology does not justify or buttress a “way of knowing”, and so the paper turns into a long disquisition about the philosophy of Pūtaiao as argued by Auckland academics.  It says nothing concrete about what kind of science Pūtaiao will produce, why it needs its own institutes to keep it separate from “Western science”, how it differs in practice from modern science, what its advantages are over modern science, and so on. Any real scientist reading this will cry out “Just give me one lousy example of the kind of scientific research you’re talking about. Tell me about questions and projects which Pūtaiao will approach differently from modern science, and how the Māori methods are superior.”

They do not even come close to addressing that question in this long and tedious paper, which makes me, at least, echo H. L. Mencken: “What are the sweating professors trying to say?”

d. Finally, since we have big-shot professors pushing this line of inquiry, and the government and all those who wish to keep their jobs will fall in line, this bodes very poorly for the future of science in New Zealand. Science being turned into a form of indigenous “ways of knowing” that are not recognizable as, much less compatible with, modern science, and a “science” like the one described here threatens to put its head up its fundament by an obsession with victimology, philosophy, etymology, identity politics, and local lore.

New Zealanders who want to really help understand the universe and engage in genuine science, as opposed to science permeated with religious lore, morality, special private language and statements about how “everything is inteconnected”, had best go overseas to do their studies. I’m absolutely serious. This paper, and everything I’ve read, tells me that science in Aoteoroa—what the authors call “New Zealand,” (a country whose name is being subsumed into Māori)—is no longer circling the drain, but is actually in it. 

If you worry about how American science is being wrecked by ideology, well, New Zealand will show you what the next step in this process will look like (Canada is getting there, too). I have no confidence that the degeneration of science in New Zealand can be corrected, for those who oppose what’s happening have been silenced by fears of ostracism or of losing their jobs. (Thanks, Royal Society of New Zealand!)

Click screenshot to read the article for free, or download the pdf here.

To get a flavor of the paper, read the abstract, which I’ll put below:


Overcoming the long-standing distrust of ‘research’ is especially challenging within the colonial structures of Western science. This article aspires to rise to this challenge by conceptualising Pūtaiao as a form of Indigenous research sovereignty. Grounded in Kaupapa Māori Theory, Pūtaiao is envisioned as a Kaupapa Māori way of doing science in which Indigenous leadership is imperative. It incorporates Māori ways of knowing, being, and doing when undertaking scientific research. An essential element of Pūtaiao is setting a decolonising agenda, drawing from both Kaupapa Māori Theory and Indigenous methodologies. Accordingly, this centres the epistemology, ontology, axiology and positionality of researchers in all research, which informs their research standpoint. This approach speaks back to ontological framings of Western scientific research that restrict Indigenous ways of researching in the scientific academy. Furthermore, Pūtaiao offers tools and language to critique the academic disciplines of Western science which are a colonial construct within the global colonising agenda. As such, the theoretical search for Indigenous science(s) and Indigenising agendas explore the dialogical relationship between both knowledge systems – Kaupapa Māori science and Western science. This relationship necessitates setting a decolonising agenda before an Indigenising agenda can be realised, whereby they are mutually beneficial rather than mutually exclusive. This article is an affirmation of the work and discourse of Indigenous scientists. In this way, Pūtaiao becomes a pathway for asserting Indigenous sovereignty over and redefining scientific research for future generations of Māori and Indigenous researchers.

It would help if they actually TOLD us how modern science (properly decolonized) and Kaupapa Māori science are mutually beneficial.

I’ll give a few quotes from the paper to apprise you of its tenor.

MM as science:

In summary, Pūtaiao reframes the current scientific discourse around the inclusion of mātauranga Māori in science to consider the relationship between Te Ao Māori, and science through Kaupapa Māori Theory and methodologies. Importantly, science is not conceptualised simply as scientific knowledge but understood as a knowledge system.

The evils of “Western” science and postmodernism and the intent to “disrupt” modern science:

Importantly, culturalist approaches alone are not sufficient to disrupt, decolonise and transform knowledge systems, such as science. This is illustrated by a critical examination of the colonial origins of science and the consistent use of science as both a justification for, and a tool of, colonial violence and oppression against Māori and Indigenous peoples. Culturalist approaches are distinguished from structuralist approaches by their focus on aligning space, structures and systems with Māori and Indigenous ways of being, knowing and doing.

. . .  Science including eugenics, genetics, genomics, epidemiology have been, and in many cases continue to be, used to scientifically justify racism and colonial violence in the form of ‘genocidal violence (killing of peoples), linguicide (death of languages), epistemicide (destruction of knowledge systems), cultural genocide (destruction of cultures) and ecocide (destruction of eco-systems)’ (Havemann, 2016: 49).


Simultaneously, we might also recognise the internal diversity of Māori experiences and local knowledges, such that there may not be one ‘true’ or comprehensively singular perspective shared by all Māori. Here, a relativist ontology might be useful in situating intersections of age, race, gender, class, sexuality, rural and urban positionalities in a sociocultural context configured by matrices of power relations, and multiple perspectives within and between Iwi, Hapū and whānau. In this way, a Māori ontology is inclusive of specific ontologies of diverse whānau, Hapū and Iwi, based on shared understandings and experiences through whakapapa.

Simultaneously, we might also recognise the internal diversity of Māori experiences and local knowledges, such that there may not be one ‘true’ or comprehensively singular perspective shared by all Māori. Here, a relativist ontology might be useful in situating intersections of age, race, gender, class, sexuality, rural and urban positionalities in a sociocultural context configured by matrices of power relations, and multiple perspectives within and between Iwi, Hapū and whānau. In this way, a Māori ontology is inclusive of specific ontologies of diverse whānau, Hapū and Iwi, based on shared understandings and experiences through whakapapa.

The equivalence of modern science and Pūtaiao in rigor and creation of knowledge about the universe:

Western science, in this context, approaches scientific knowledge and methods from a Western worldview, based on Western ways of being, knowing and doing. In contrast, Pūtaiao as Kaupapa Māori science centres Māori ways of being, knowing and doing. Both approaches are equally rigorous and create reliable knowledge. The participation of Māori within the science knowledge system, however, is not a choice to subscribe or assimilate to Western science or Western worldviews.

The admission that Pūtaiao is really more than science.  It seems clear that one of the “advantages” of Pūtaiao as the authors see it is that it is NOT just a way of producing knowledge and that knowledge itself: it is also a way of telling us how to live. That’s why MM is not equivalent to science.

Mātauranga is central to Kaupapa Māori. Mātauranga is both a body of knowledge, and an epistemology – a way of knowing and worldview. Royal (2009) states that,

The purpose of indigenous knowledge is not merely to describe the world (acquire facts about phenomena) but ultimately to understand how one may live well in it. Indigenous knowledge is thus value-laden and value-driven. It seeks mutually enhancing relationships between the human community and the natural world. (p. 114)

Here, whanaungatanga, relationships, are a critical element of Kaupapa Māori, mediating research at every stage. Extending on this, Hoskins and Jones (2017) express that,

The identity of ‘things’ in the world is not understood as discrete or independent, but emerges through and relates to everything else. It is the relation, or connection, not the thing itself, that is ontologically privileged in Indigenous and Māori thought. (p. 51)
This is the nature of how we come to know as Māori. Literature, both academic and the literature shared through whakapapa kōrero (ancestral narratives, histories), waiata (songs), whakataukī (proverb, aphorism), whakairo (to carve), and many more ways are key to expressions of mātauranga within Pūtaiao. The environment is central to understanding mātauranga, as Durie (2005) explains,
Seriously, what do these have to do with with science?
But wait! There’s more: (“Whakapapa” is defined in the paper’s glossary as “a way of knowing about the world through intergenerational relationships.” It is the genealogical aspect of MM that allows the incorporation of legend and ancestral stories into MM.):

From Kaupapa Māori critical theories and social constructionist approaches we explore how whakapapa ‘provides the theoretical or epistemological basis for a Maori “way of knowing” about the world’ (Roberts, 2013: 93) where ‘whakapapa maps epistemologies (including tribal concepts, principles, ideas, and related practices) and locates them within a particular context’ (Bean et al., 2012). As described by Burgess and Painting (2020),

The concept of whakapapa explains the origins, positioning, and futures of all things. Whakapapa derives from the root ‘papa’, meaning a base or foundation. Whakapapa denotes a layering, adding to that foundation. Rooted in creation, generations layer upon each other, creating a reality of intergenerational relationships. Everything has whakapapa, all phenomena, spiritual and physical, from celestial bodies, days and nights, through to the winds, lands, waters, and all that transpires throughout. (p. 208)
Whakapapa, is not only a body of knowledge but a way of understanding the universe, and all its complexities, by weaving existence together within genealogical constructs as the foundation of Māori ways of being, knowing and doing.

Finally, because I’m getting tired and also angry,

The Māori brand of science must have its own safe space, and can be practiced and analyzed only by Māori:

For a Māori axiology, data ethics acts as a beginning, a process to create axiological space in research and recognise that in order for Māori Data Sovereignty to be realised, Māori data must be subject to tikanga and Māori governance. Here, Māori Data Governance refers to tikanga, policies, laws, and structures through which Māori exercise control and autonomy over Māori data (Kukutai and Cormack, 2020). Te Mana Raraunga – the Māori Data Sovereignty network – have published a charter outlining tikanga for data, and a Mana Mahi (Governance-Operations) framework to support the inherent rights of Māori with regards to Māori data. In Pūtaiao, this is based on whakapapa in terms of a deep intergenerational relationship with people and the natural world.
Kukutai and Taylor (2016) have identified six key ways to advance Māori Data Sovereignty:
1. Asserting Māori rights and interests in relation to data.
2. Ensuring data for and about Māori can be safeguarded and protected.
3. Requiring the quality and integrity of Māori data and their collection.
4. Advocating for Māori involvement in the governance of data repositories Indigenous Data Sovereignty.
5. Supporting the development of Māori data infrastructure and security systems.
6. Supporting the development of sustainable Māori digital businesses and innovations.

In this way Pūtaiao or “Kaupapa Māori science” becomes the exclusive purview of Māori themselves—almost like a club or fraternity. This is very different from modern science, in which all are welcome to participate, including of course Māori. Modern science is an international enterprise with a worldwide form of practice and recognition of results, while Pūtaiao can be practiced only in Aoteoroa (the authors outline how they’ve constructed a self-contained institute practicing Pūtaiao), and its analysis is deemed refractory to inspection by “outsiders” from modern science.  After all, who wants Māori science judged by those evil Western scientists who purvey genocide, linguicide, and even ecocide and epistemicide?

If you have any doubt that these authors±who appear to be almost oblivious to the fact science is not philosophy—are clueless about how to attain their goal, read the final 1½-page section of the paper, “How do we transform scientific research?” It’s a big metaphor about trees and forests with no concrete answers to the question.

In the end, we have a lovely country, with lovely people, falling victim to a form of postmodernism that has affected academia to the point that it no longer accepts modern science, though it pretends it does. (Of course these same people are flying in planes, using antibiotics and GPS devices, and so on.) But New Zealand’s excessive fealty towards the authority of the sacred victim, the Māori, and the citizens’ unwillingness to say, “Stop the madness!” is going to erode whatever good science is left. It’s very sad, but in the end it is the fault of the people themselves, and of their government.

57 thoughts on “A new paper presages the death of science in New Zealand

  1. New Zealand has only 5 million people, and that size of population and economy cannot sustain a presence at the forefront of today’s science except by being fully linked into international networks and collaborations.

    Turning inwards to a Māori mythology that pertains nowhere else is the opposite of what they need to be doing.

      1. Just a suggestion.
        Why is the whole business in the English Colonial Language?
        Just put it all in Maori or whatever and then it can be understood by the minority that believe it. See how they manage to push the agenda then.

        1. Well, it’s actually not completely done in English. These papers typically are larded with Maori words that make them nearly incomprehensible to laymen. Of course, that makes them harder to challenge as well.

          1. I agree and totally accept that it is not all in English, I was just suggesting that if was all in Maori it would be understood by a small minority if proficiency in the aboriginal language is as stated very low. There would be no need to challenge it then as the majority would just ignore the whole business.

            1. The answer, surely, is that the writers are not actually among the 1% of the NZ population who are native speakers of Maori. Their reliance — lock, stock and barrel — on the very French and entirely non-indigenous theoretical framework of post-structuralism is also an irony of which they are, perhaps, dimly aware.

        2. Yes, perhaps they should stop using the Roman/Western Colonialist written alphabet and use the indigenous one instead…..oh, wait….

        3. Because most of the people pushing this are actually of European descent themselves (check the list of authors out). The paper is written mostly in English because that is the language that the authors know. It’s also the language that most of their audience will know. As Jerry points out, very few people speak the Maori language fluently.

          The heavy use of Maori words in the paper is really just virtue signalling.

  2. I’ve been wondering about what became of Peter Boghossian, and now we know. He must have moved from Portland to New Zealand, invented a bunch of new names, and submitted this paper to the journal. We can assume that the higher education establishment and the granting agencies in NZ, merrily joining in on the prank, are budgeting plenty of whakapapa for more Pūtaiao of just this sort.

  3. I’m arsed to refute her spurious arguments, did MM discover plate tectonics? Evolution by natural selection? The vastness of the universe? The atomic theory? The Periodic system? The germ theory of infections? The way genetics work? Even a spherical (well oblong spheroid) Earth? No, no, no ,no, no, no and no (lost the count) . What has MM brought to the knowledge about our world. What has it added? Zero, zilch, nada.
    MM may arguably be a valuable addition to our ‘knowledge’, but it has not contributed anything to science, obviously.

    1. They have figured out out to catch eels. And the classic argument for MM was the navigation success of Polynesians (not Maori; they didn’t exist yet). But how many Polynesians died in these attempts because their navigation didn’t work?

      Granted, it’s a form of empirical knowledge, but it’s science in that construal, and not in the methodological construal.

  4. Thank you PCC(E).

    [ tries to come up with a comment]

    I give a quote from The Big Paper – I might be doing this regularly :

    “The scientific community must come to the realization that such articles are not innocent expressions of well­ meaning individuals. They are not exaggerations or outliers, but are true to the creed of the ideology that produced them.[6,14]”

    Journal of Controversial Ideas 2023, 3(1), 1; 10.35995/jci03010001

    … and “postmodern” is right – a superficial, formulaic amusement – a childish embarrassment when adults expect it to be taken seriously.

    The following website generates pomo articles – I look forward to a website that produces intersectional critical social justice articles this way :


  5. Years ago I read a book by physicist Richard Feynman where he described his process of learning new scientific concepts. As he followed the general, abstract description he always mentally imagined an example and translated it into concrete terms. When something didn’t make sense, he knew he had a good place for a question.

    Here’s what I came up with for this paper:

    Simultaneously, we might also recognise the internal diversity of Māori experiences and local knowledges, such that there may not be one ‘true’ or comprehensively singular perspective shared by all Māori. (The man who runs one tribe thinks that the moon is a globe, but the people in the other tribe believe it’s a silver plate.)Here, a relativist ontology might be useful in situating intersections of age, race, gender, class, sexuality, rural and urban positionalities in a sociocultural context configured by matrices of power relations, and multiple perspectives within and between Iwi, Hapū and whānau. ( We look at who’s older. If the first leader is an elder in the tribe, then the moon is a globe. If not, we ask the oldest man what HE thinks it is, and go with that. As for the tribe that believes the moon is a plate, if they’re in consensus and far away from the first tribe then yeah, for them it’s a plate.) In this way, a Māori ontology is inclusive of specific ontologies of diverse whānau, Hapū and Iwi, based on shared understandings and experiences through whakapapa.(Everybody happy, harmony prevails)

    I don’t know, I’m not really happy with this. So yes, I do think some specific explanatory examples are called for.

    1. This is a brilliant approach, and makes the points better than the authors.

      Any idea which Feynman book, or what else was in it?

  6. One can barely tell what it is even trying to say. Even the evil colonialist strings of words are as clear as mud, larded as they are in post-modernist smoke and mirrors. So we get “epistemology, ontology, axiology and positionality”, and you pretty much need a thesaurus to translate that. I did not know what 3 out of 4 of those words meant until just now, and in the end I discovered they could have just said “beliefs” and be done with it. So why say “epistemology, ontology, axiology and positionality”? This is to exhaust the reader and make them give up in their critical reading. Hide by obfuscation the clear lack of examples and evidence.
    Has it been barely a year since we’ve first read about this issue coming out of New Zealand? And sadly, here we are.

  7. Our host hits the nail on the head by noting the similarity of this stuff to postmodernism. Why, if Judith Butler had peppered her thoughts with words in Maori, or for that matter in Klingon, think of how much more profound it would have seemed to its devotees. The current zeitgeist could best be described as postmodernism finding new languages in which to obscure its lack of content.

    1. ” The current zeitgeist could best be described as postmodernism finding new languages in which to obscure its lack of content.”

      One could also say, “new languages and cultures to steal/colonize.”

  8. Prompt: “The following passage comes from the famous paper by Watson, Crick, and Wilkins on the structure of DNA; please rewrite it in the style of a New Zealand researcher and please emphasize the contributions of Matauranga Mauri to the discovery of the structure of DNA: ‘We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest. It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.'”

    ChatGPT: “Kia ora tatou katoa, as researchers grounded in Matauranga Mauri, we put forth a groundbreaking proposition for the deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) salt structure. Our innovative approach uncovers unique features that hold significant biological implications. E whai whakaaro ana matou, ka puta he whakararuraru o te matepukupuku, kei te kitea nei e matau ana koutou. Me mihi ka tika, ka puta he whaihua maha mo te ao hinengaro.
    Through our exploration of Matauranga Mauri, we have identified a specific pairing that immediately hints at a possible mechanism for the replication of genetic material. Ko tenei whakararuraru i whakaritea e matou, ka whai whakaaro ki te whakauruutanga o te matepukupuku.
    Our discovery represents a significant step forward in our understanding of the fundamental basis of life and underscores the importance of integrating Matauranga Mauri into scientific research. Me whai wahi te matauranga i roto i nga rangahau a te ao hinengaro. Kia ora tatou katoa.”

    Kia ora y’all. Stuff practically writes itself.

    1. Forgot to add: the full Maori sentences added to the response by the AI are not gibberish, but they’re out of context. The last one (courtesy of google translate) means, “Education must have a place in psychological research. Let’s all live together.” I wonder how much of this kind of meaningless Maori is larded into non-chatbot-generated papers on Matauranga Mauri? And is anyone checking?

  9. I know a recently retired professor from the University of Auckland ( not one of the ‘Listener’ letter writers ). This person has a significant publication record on the peoples and cultures of the Pacific, and so is hardly unsympathetic to those whose antecedents have suffered from the effects of colonisation.

    They told me that of their best graduate students, a non-Maori, was asked to ghost-write grant proposals ( eg for Marsden research grants ) by the higher manageriat of Auckland university. This was because the UoA manageriat desired to have a ‘higher success rate’ for their Maori academics/postgrad students, and poor-quality grant proposals were identified as one of the barriers. Needless to say, but I shall say it, Asian students were never given unofficial help to write their own grant proposals; this was a ‘helping hand up’ by UoA management ‘granted’ only to those who ‘identify as Maori’. According to this retired professor, their student felt compelled to oblige, for fear of imperilling her own career prospects if she snubbed the UoA admin request.

    Presumably this paper did not require the assistance of non-Maori ghost writers?

  10. Overcoming the long-standing distrust of ‘research’ is especially challenging within the colonial structures of Western science.

    Right from the very first sentence of the abstract I’m completely flummoxed. I mean, what does this sentence even mean? Whose distrust are they speaking of? What kind of research, and why did they put quotes around it? Why is it challenging within the “colonial structures of Western science?” I think people that participate in Western science don’t distrust ‘research’ so “within” seems like a misplaced word here.

    As for the rest, I think we should rejoice that they propose MM should be the exclusive purview of Maori people. Let them teach it to themselves, and teach everyone else science.

    1. Yes I loved that first sentence too.

      There is a fun parallel between this kind of meaningless prose in woke polemic and the meaningless data in fraudulent retracted research articles.

      Authors of retracted articles with fraudulent data or impossible statistical results often defend their work by claiming that the errors in the data don’t affect the meaning and significance of the results.

      Authors of woke polemic similarly seem to care little for the specific meaning of the actual words used.

      In both cases, it’s the vibe that matters, the emotional content of the claims, and whether or not they support the authors’ priors and prejudices. The substance matters much less, and the dissonance between the words and their meaning (like the dissonance between fraudulent data and conclusions based on them) only needs to be plausibly deniable.

    2. And I can add here that by denigrating modern science as ‘colonialist’, what they really mean is Western/European. And by Western/European what they really mean is white science. So traditional science is indelibly tainted with whiteness.
      But white peoples’ science is also yellow people’ science, and black science, and people in all shades of brown practice the exact same science. They can’t deny it, but they won’t ever admit it.

    3. Oh you can bet your ass that they will be entering this into middle school curriculums, replacing actual science, as we speak. I’m sure they have the full support of the government and the education sector.

  11. That grotesque paper is a paradigmatic example of applied postmodern socialism. The question as to whether the Woke movement is an anti-Enlightenment movement should now be answered.

    1. In many ways you can argue that science is broadly aligned with the Enlightenment and Wokeness with Romanticism.

      In the Western world Enlightenment (and therefore Science) have managed to encyst Theology and the more wacky Philosophy to prevent it infecting the rest of academia. It looks as if the cyst has ruptured under the pressure of identity politics coinciding with the end of the old Elite and the move to the new Elite.

      The pus is splattering wide and far and people don’t know how to deal with it because trying to clean it up just spreads the pus wider. Perhaps the Theory of Evolution will prove to be the universal antibiotic?

  12. As for the “decolonization” of (Western, white) scientific research:

    “From the vantage point of the colonized, a position from which I write, and choose to privilege, the term ‘research’ is inextricably linked to European imperialism and colonialism. The word itself, ‘research’, is probably one of the dirtiest words in the Indigenous world’s vocabulary. When mentioned in many Indigenous contexts, it stirs up silence, it conjures up bad memories, it raises a smile that is knowing and distrustful. It is so powerful that Indigenous people even write poetry about research. The ways in which scientific research is implicated in the worst excesses of colonialism remains a powerful remembered history for many of the world’s colonized peoples. It is a history that still offends the deepest sense of our humanity. Just knowing that someone measured our ‘faculties’ by filling the skulls of our ancestors with millet seeds and compared the amount of millet seed to the capacity for mental thought offends our sense of who and what we are. It galls us that Western researchers and intellectuals can assume to know all that it is possible to know of us, on the basis of their brief encounters with some of us. It appalls us that the West can desire, extract and claim ownership of our ways of knowing, our imagery, the things we create and produce, and then simultaneously reject the people who created and developed those ideas and seek to deny them further opportunities to be creators of their own culture and own nations. It angers us when practices linked to the last century, and the centuries before that, are still employed to deny the validity of Indigenous peoples’ claim to existence, to land and territories, to the right of self-determination, to the survival of our languages and forms of cultural knowledge, to our natural resources and systems for living within our environments.This collective memory of imperialism has been perpetuated through the ways in which knowledge about Indigenous peoples was collected, classified and then represented in various ways back to the West, and then, through the eyes of the West, back to those who have been colonized.”

    (Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. 3rd ed. London: Bloomsbury, 2021. p. 1)

  13. “Bad people have (mis)used science (scientific research). Therefore, science (scientific research) is bad.” – Immediately discerning the fallacy doesn’t require a very high IQ!

  14. Two signs of the times: (1) the paper on merit in science by Abbott et. al. appeared in a journal of controversial ideas;
    (2) the self-parody under discussion appeared in Environment and Planning. The latter set of journals is described by Wikipedia as follows: “The Environment and Planning journals are five academic journals. They are interdisciplinary journals with a spatial focus of primary interest to human geographers and city planners. The journals are also of interest to the scholars of economics, sociology, political science, urban planning, architecture, ecology and cultural studies.”

  15. “…epistemicide (destruction of knowledge systems)…”

    Yet another Wokespeak neologism. I see. So when a student believes (to know) that 1+1=3 and her math teacher doesn’t accept that, then this is a case of “epistemicide”, because the teacher thereby “destroys” or “kills” the student’s alternative way of knowing. Just shoot me now…

  16. It’s not as if these papers can even be understood by any Maori people (or people of any culture) who aren’t already academics with a hammer constantly searching for nails. I’m sure Maori doesn’t have analogue words for stuff like “intersectionality,” “ontology,” “positionalities,” etc. They’ve just made their papers even more incomprehensible to everyone that isn’t them, putting themselves squarely in the driver’s seat as the people who produce and then get to interpret the New Knowledge.

    The really amusing and also sad thing is that a lot of it is a bunch of white people taking philosophy created by white people and then simply pretending to incorporate Maori. Surely the average Maori wasn’t asking for this, just as most black people in the US didn’t want the police to back out of their neighborhoods and their prosecutors in some cities to stop prosecuting most crimes short of assault with a deadly weapon. And that’s one of the saddest things about so much of what “critical theory” or “social justice” school of thought does: they’re always driven by the academic elites, without asking the people they claim to be helping what they actually want, and thus invariably hurting those people the most or at least doing nothing to improve their situations.

    That is what I regularly find so infuriating about this stuff. They could be focusing their attention on how to ensure Maori people are actually given equal opportunity at the ground floor, helping them economically and culturally, whatever. Doing anything but this. Something that requires actually going out into the world and materially improving lives. But this, just like so much other activity in the social justice sphere slowly marching through our institutions, is just pissing into the wind while the rest of society slowly gets to have the unpleasant surprise of finding out that it’s not rain that keeps falling on them, but urine from pretentious and status-obsessed academics and activists.

      1. Rudi Dutschke, one of the leaders of leftist student activism in Germany during the 1960&70s, spoke of a “long march through the institutions.”

  17. Jerry writes:
    The Māori brand of science must have its own safe space, and can be practiced and analyzed only by Māori:

    What I’m reading here is that the goal is not to advance science by privileging Maori scientists but to advance Maori interests at the expense of science (as we construe it.) Science at the event horizon of the drain is right where they want it.

    The ff. paragraphs go beyond control over data repositories (ref. as Kukutai and Taylor 2016) and seem to say that only Maori researchers can have access to them. That is, the club or fraternity of Maori data owners takes on the characteristics of a race-restricted guild (Pūtaiao) for actually doing the science. Do I have this right?
    When a guild is free to set its own criteria for membership and chooses to use race, the barriers to entry become insurmountable.

    Sovereignty over personal data is commonly claimed by indigenous tribes in various ways around the world. Widdowson and Howard (Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry McGill-Queens University Press, 2008) have written about the potential for compromise of scientific integrity if tribal leadership exercises veto over publication of the work or imposes other conditions on the scientists. But this seems to be a step further. if the guild can restrict the practice of the science itself to Maori researchers who are members, New Zealand has extended its concept of the bi-racial state to the scientific establishment.

    Is there a plan to channel grant funding into this race-restricted guild of Pūtaiao? Say half of the national grant budget (to start), with further shifts at the expense of world science that anyone is free to do. The guild could make sure that it assesses all its work to be of the very highest calibre (since no one else will be able to read it!) and the eventual fading out of the underperforming world science will be fore-ordained.

    Seen this way the impenetrable jargon of the paper is just like the strips of aluminum chaff that bombers dumped out to jam enemy gun-laying radar. You’re not meant to see through it.

    So now what? Does this proposal have to pass through Parliament or university decision-makers? Is it a call to action or is it describing a fait accompli? And where exactly does the guild’s power come from to get its way?

    1. Reserving fields for people of a specific race is what the Nazis did. Last time I checked, they were not praised for it. Now it progressive and PC.

  18. Ceiling Cat help them if they actually have to solve an existential scientific or technological problem in New Zealand: climate crisis, epidemic, water shortage, pollution, war. They will be completely helpless. This is an excellent and sad example of a country actually engineering it’s own demise.

  19. To answer Leslie’s question in #17, the guild’s power comes from the educrat establishment, both in Aotearoa and elsewhere. It would be good to have more sociological data on the way acolytes of applied postmodernism inserted themselves not only into academic administrations, but into the offices of academies, publications, granting agencies, and professional organizations. In some cases, (e.g., medical schools), we know that individuals with ed school rather than professional credentials are behind the insidious, continuing transition to guild power

    1. I believe the overall attempt to overthrow science is bound to fail, and woke nutcake “science” will become an embarrassment to all but the incurable. The problem is- science works. What these folks are doing is like announcing that there are alternative ways to fly, then building an airplane (broadly so construed) based on alternative aerodynamic principles. At some point people are going to want to fly. I just hope people are writing down names to know who to blame when lives are lost, literally or figuratively.

      On the other hand, the woke nutcakes will and are empowering the fascists to take power in the US and throughout the world. In their quest for social revolution, the nutcakes will likely bring it about, just not the way they intended. And therein will be the true tragedy.

      1. All those science-y things like airplanes and medical discoveries and engineers can be purchased abroad and imported from where science still works, Lee. The guild doesn’t have to use mātauranga Māori to make any of those things. It doesn’t have to do anything at all except hew to ceremony and spend grant money investigating woo. The guild isn’t stupid. They know (sort of) how airplanes fly. They’re just grifters like the tailors in the Emperor’s New Clothes, betting that the holders of the purse strings will not dare open their mouths if they glimpse the emperor’s bare butt through the chaff.

        Like any small country, New Zealand doesn’t have to support a vigorous endogenous scientific establishment. As long as it generates wealth from stuff it produces in large quantities and high quality (wine, lamb, wool, coal, hydroelectric power, tourism) it can import all the technology and innovation it needs.

        The planes won’t fall out of the sky. But if mātauranga Māori comes to a vineyard or a sheep farm, you’ll know the ghost of Lysenko has arisen. But yes, as Jon says, I’d love to learn the sociology behind it. Think the Chinese Communist Party is up to mischief?

  20. An epistemology is just a particular type of theory, and just like any theory is validated or invalidated by the results that follow from it. I have yet to see any results from another “way of knowing” that hold up to any level of cross examination.

    One distinctive characteristic of “western” science is considering alternative hypotheses. I’d love to hear an advocate of “another way of knowing” try to address the question “what if we’re wrong about this?” I won’t leave the meter running, however.

    1. Sorry to reply to my own comment. I just find it amusing when academic types crow about their new “epistemology” like kids bragging about a new toy. They talk as though this claim were some kind of proof of their theories- it’s not. Their big adversary is science, and problem is- science works.

  21. Earlier, I wrote…

    This can be looked at two different ways (at least). From one standpoint, Western elites have lost all confidence in their ideas and themselves. They should say that the enlightenment produced (among many other) things modern science and modern science explains the world we live in. Indigenous science is just a bunch of random suspicions that has produced nothing. Would anyone dare to say any such thing? Of course, not.

    From a different standpoint, the right response is just ridicule and laughter. Indigenous science is just PC clown science and should not be taken seriously. Anyone who puts up with it, should be laughed at. In 1900 or 1950 of 2000 anyone advocating a co-equal place for ‘indigenous science’ would have just be laughed at and (possibly) sent to an asylum (rightfully so).

    It is a sad truth that the West has lost confidence in its ideas. This is just chapter 1001 in the long and sorry list of consequences

    1. But it is not “the West” which lost confidence in the ideas of the Enlightenment and the scientific revolution. It is a stratum of the
      lumpen-intelligentsia who used to be confined to the rubber rooms of Critical Grievance Studies in academia. They escaped from these wards during the last 20 years, and have mysteriously been able to take over an alarming amount of administrative and media space in the last ~10 years. We need to work out how the latter process occurred, in order to devise tactics to reverse it.

      1. I think you are somewhat wrong. I don’t think it is a coincidence that all of the prominent critics of ‘woke’ are non-traditional. Let me use a few examples. Douglas Murray is from the UK and gay, Andrew Sullivan is gay, Jordan Peterson is Canadian, Bari Weiss is female, Jewish, and lesbian, Claire Lehman is female and Australian, Dave Rubin was/is Jewish. James Damore was/is Jewish, Alessandro Strumia was/is Italian, Bret Weinstein was/is Jewish, etc. Exceptions exist. But you should see the point. None of the prominent critics of ‘woke’ is a conventional WASP (I am not a conventional WASP either).

  22. This is all very concerning. I wonder if someone could give me a definition of the output of New Zealand science and some predictions about how this output will likely change in the future because of these policies and a mechanism by which the policies will change the New Zealand scientific output

  23. Tha authors of this paper seem to be, in the main, relatively junior staff/post-grad students and mainly outside mainstream areas of science. Their publications seem to be entirely within the area of MM or related.
    Te Kahuratai (Teaching Fellow- Bio Sciences)
    Logan Hamley (PhD Student Pysch)
    Dan Hikuroa ( Senior Lecturer Maori Studies)
    Jade Le Grice (Senior Lecturer Pysch)
    Tara McAllister (Unclear)
    Georgia McLellan (PhD Candidate Science )
    Hineatua Parkinson (Teaching Fellow, Pysch)
    Larissa Renfrew (Pofessional Casual Staff – nursing/pysch?)
    Sarah Rewi (Grad Teaching Assistant Bio Science)

    For what it’s worth, while I’m not a scientist, in one role I am in fairly close contact with science PhDs. So far at least they are stay strictly within the realm of conventional science.

    1. Thank you for doing that, Gordon. It helps answer my question at #17 about at what stage of development these ideas are. It sounds more like a manifesto, to the extent that manifestos have abstracts 🙂

      Tara McAllister we remember from the Listener letter.

    2. At one point a few years ago, the UoA Psych department was ranked around 36th in the world, from memory. What a downfall.

  24. On thirteenth thought, I think it would be great if NZ educators did teach science and indigenous accomplishments side by side, e.g. “Here’s what ancient Maoris thought about ocean waves… and now, here is what Western science has thought about waves- electromagnetic waves, gravity waves, sound waves, trig functions, Fourier transforms, Euler’s formula…”. Then, “ancient Maori mariners used the sun and stars to tell the time and navigate the open ocean. Now, here is what Einstein had to say about space and time-…”

    But this shouldn’t be a contest at all. Courage and ingenuity are found in all cultures. Science belongs to all humankind, not just white Europeans. I am a white male and had absolutely nothing to do with the invention, say, of Calculus- why then should calculus belong to me more than to a Black or Polynesian student taking the calculus class with me?

    Those who see the world entirely in terms of skin color and national origin are blind, and it’s time to stop treating them as though they know anything at all- they don’t.

  25. Whenever ideology comes before data and facts, you know there’s a huge problem. Great article.

  26. I can’t access the study because it’s been made “restricted access”. Does anyone have a copy or access please?

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