A good summary of the mess that is science education in New Zealand

September 20, 2023 • 11:30 am

If you want to see what the government of New Zealand is up to with respect to science education, you can’t do better than listening to this video/slideshow by two exponents of the “we-need-two-knowledge-systems” view. I’ve gotten a lot of scary stuff from Kiwi educators in the last couple of weeks, but this one site sums up how science education in New Zealand is circling the drain.

And it’s happening because of uber-wokeness: the propensity of Kiwis to regard the indigenous Māori and those with a fraction of Māori ancestry as somehow sacred, with a culture and “knowledge system” that are beyond criticism. Combine that with a nationwide authoritarian mindset that will get you fired if you criticize anything Māori, and you have a recipe for madness.

(By the way, the country is now often called “Aotearoa New Zealand” as a concession to the Māori, in whose language the first word means “land of the long white cloud”. I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually dropped the “New Zealand” part.)

Click on the screenshots below to hear a 57-minute podcast showing what I see as a deeply misguided and unscientific attempt to give New Zealand schoolchildren two—count them, two—”knowledge systems”. One of them is simply modern science, and the other is Mātauranga Māori (MM), a pastiche of knowledge accumulated by trial and error, but also of religioun, superstition, ethics, word of mouth tradition, etiquette, and many things having nothing to do with science. These latter things should be regarded not as “ways of knowing” but as “ways of feeling” or “ways of behaving”.

The site below is sponsored by the New Zealand government, so you know it’s serious.

The summary:

In this recorded webinar Pauline Waiti and Rosemary Hipkins explore the idea of knowledge systems with examples from science and mātauranga Māori.

The report Enduring Competencies for Designing Science Learning Pathways introduced the idea of exploring both science and mātauranga Māori as knowledge systems. Thinking about knowledge as a system is likely to be an unfamiliar idea for many teachers. In this webinar we unpack the metaphor, using familiar science concepts to show which of them might be appropriately explored through both knowledge lenses (i.e. science and mātauranga Māori) and when this might not be helpful.

Rosemary Hipkins is in fact the mother of NZ’s present Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, who himself served as Minister of Education for the Labour Party. She began as a biology teacher but now is a Big Noise in “improving” the curricula in New Zealand’s schools. For her services to education she was recognized in the 2023 New Year Honours List, becoming a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit “for services to science education”.

is the director of

Click on the screenshot above or below to go to the 57-minute lecture/discussion/slideshow below.

The video begins with a lot of untranslated

First of all “MM” isn’t a “knowledge” system in the way you probably think, since “knowledge”, conceived of as “generally accepted empirical truth” is only a small part of MM. The discussants get around this by including “values”, “experiences,” and “standards” as aspects of “knowledge”. Then, as the defendants of MM do so often, they present a complex diagram of what science is (13:30). It adds nothing to the “unpacking” of science.

At 14:54 Waiti introduces the MM idea of “mauri,” which is simply a “teleological force” that adds nothing to our understanding of nature; it is simply a quasi-religious concept. Waiti admits that this is a different way of looking at empirical problems, but is “equally as valid” as is modern science. My response is “no, it isn’t.” But at last we see some proponents of MM who say that they’re not plumping for equal time for science and MM in the classroom, nor a direct equivalence. Instead, but just as bad, they argue (see slide below) that although these nonequivalent ways of knowing, they can still be brought together usefully to present a complete picture of nature.

How? That’s the big problem, and one that, as far as I can see, has no solution. That’s because there really is only one way of knowing about the world, and that’s using the tools of science. Dragging in ideas like “mauri” not only pollutes science, but confuses students. “Mauri,” again, is a quasireligious concept, defined by the



The next slide brings in the MM concept of “mana”, defined by the dictionary as

prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma – mana is a supernatural force in a person, place or object. Mana goes hand in hand with tapu, one affecting the other. The more prestigious the event, person or object, the more it is surrounded by tapu and mana.

. . . and tapu means this:

be sacred, prohibited, restricted, set apart, forbidden, under atua protection – see definition 4 for further explanations.

definition 4:

restriction, prohibition – a supernatural condition. A person, place or thing is dedicated to an atua and is thus removed from the sphere of the profane and put into the sphere of the sacred. It is untouchable, no longer to be put to common use.

Hipkins then points out that in MM, unlike science, both living and nonliving objects have agency. (This is of course connected with mauri.)

Note that in the next slide, MM as a “knowledge system” also “conveys wisdom about how to live and be.”  How on earth can views about the best way to live one’s life be usefully folded into modern science?  Don’t ask me.

Finally, Hipkins defines what she means by “equal status” for both MM and science. At least she admits it doesn’t mean equal time in class!  But in the entire podcast they give not one example of how “western” science can be brought together fruitfully with MM.

And the advantages of combining two knowledge systems? The answer is in the slide below. It isn’t convincing.because the main object of MM appears to be to “live as ethically and responsible as possible” That’s a goal completely different from that of science, even though they imply that that’s also a goal of science.

In the end, these aren’t two “knowledge systems”. They aren’t at all comparable, much less compatible, and to call MM a “knowledge system” is mostly false. Imagine watching the podcast as a teacher and then trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do in class!

What appears to be happening is a pullback from teaching MM as coequal to science qua science in science classes and its replacement with MM’s characterization as coequal to science as a “knowledge system” (whatever that means).  That is, students will now be taught a form of cultural relativism in science classes and there will be emphasis on the limitations of science—limitations overcome by learning about MM, which has knowledge not present in science. This is no improvement over the previous plan, but a recipe for added confusion.

In my view, as the authors of the Listener letter argued, MM shouldn’t be dragged at all into the science class, but reserved for sociology or anthropology class. There’s already a word for the small part of MM that can be incorporated into science. It’s called “science.”

I have comments from three Kiwi scientists (all anonymous, of course) about this presentation.  Here’s the first one:

This is not an improvement in epistemic terms. Arguably it’s even worse than integrating MM into science, as social constructivism/epistemic relativism are antithetical to science.
I think it does make it easier for us to criticise what’s going on, however, as the postmodernist ideology is more evident. It’s pretty hard to argue that criticism of postmodernist ideology is racist!
You ask: how are they going to teach MM now? The answer is they’re not – to do so would be “recolonisation”. This was never really about teaching MM. It was always a political project designed to promote an ideological agenda. Here’s a relevant quote from Doug Stokes’ book “Against decolonisation”:
“[A]ctivists impose decolonisation as part of a counter-power move to push back against what they claim is knowledge power plays of historically tainted thinkers and institutions. In short, if all knowledge is relative, it becomes politically acceptable to impose your agenda in the name of social justice and a form of restorative activism. Decolonisation is thus an explicitly political power play.
This, in turn, transforms the academic social contract. It moves from a process whereby the sum of human knowledge improves in terms of its capacity to explain the world to a form of radical political deconstruction underpinned by an ethical claim that this is justified to compensate for the legacy effects of the alleged perfidiousness of Western civilisation. The assertion that all human knowledge is equally valid and the university is a site of power contestation makes it easier to understand the abandonment of fundamental academic principles, not least that of academic freedom; Itself often portrayed as a conspiracy on the part of bigots to justify discrimination and ideas that may run contrary to those of the progressive ‘woke’ Left. Aside from the obvious fact that if all knowledge is relative, why should we subscribe to the assertions of the decolonisation critique itself, [when] this form of unbounded judgmental relativism abandons any notion of reality or truth for a seeming endless play on meaning, identity and power that is transforming the university system.” (p. 83-84)
In short, the inherent attack on science is a feature, not a bug, and we’re replaying the science wars of the 1990s. People here in NZ should be asking themselves the following questions: if any of the MM proponents actually had a commitment to science, why are they all engaging with MM instead, and why to they consistently seek to caricature modern science?
From anonymous scientist #2

I’ve come across this video resource for teachers at a site that to the best of my knowledge is funded by the NZ govt. If you ever want to go through a painful experience, do watch this and then tell me if it makes any sense to you. The Q&A at the end is also telling.

I just cannot understand how anyone can watch this type of talk and think it can be useful for school teachers. But if you say anything about it in NZ you will be most certainly labelled as racist, intolerant, and/or full of prejudice…

And from the third anonymous Kiwi scientist with whom I’ve discussed the podcast:

Thanks for taking this issue on, and I look forward greatly to you taking up the issue. In my opinion it’s full of pretentious, impenetrable, but vacuous nonsense. Education here is ruled by a clique, membership of which (and thus career prospects) is confined to those who are happy to relinquish any belief in science and indeed, critical thinking. It brings to mind Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

I don’t think that the educational and political powers in New Zealand realize how much their “sacralization of the oppressed” has angered and frustrated Kiwi scientists. And they’ll never know this so long as they deplatform, demonize, or fire those who speak against the Official Position.

Just give me a little less than an hour of your time to watch this presentation, and you’ll see what a mess science education (and education in general) has become in New Zealand. For here we have two recognized science experts trying to mix two immiscible liquids.

I’ll finish with a bit I’ve published before, quoting an ex-pastor. You can substitute Mātauranga Māori  for “religion” here, as there’s quite a bit of faith in MM’s “knowledge system”:

[This is the quote] I used to begin Chapter 4 in Faith Versus Fact. It’s from Mike Aus, a former preacher who left the pulpit after admitting his atheism on television. . .

When I was working as a pastor I would often gloss over the clash between the scientific world view and the perspective of religion. I would say that the insights of science were no threat to faith because science and religion are “different ways of knowing” and are not in conflict because they are trying to answer different questions. Science focuses on “how” the world came to be and religion addresses the question of “why” we are here. I was dead wrong. There are not different ways of knowing. There is knowing and not knowing, and those are the only two options in this world.

49 thoughts on “A good summary of the mess that is science education in New Zealand

  1. It’s like a new religion is being created, complete with wizards to serve as the source of the truth, which has been shown to be nonexistent until now, as our primitive minds are obviously so clumsy with grasping it.

  2. This doesn’t just make a mess of science education. There is also the supposed aim of education in mātauranga Māori that one should learn to live as ethically and responsibly as possible. There is no reason to think that, if New Zealanders need to learn to live ethically and responsibly, the best way to accomplish this aim is through education in Māori principles. After all, there are lots of ways of thinking about how to live ethically. There are even university courses in ethics where young people can discuss how to live, and while they may include discussion of Māori ideas, these courses obviously may well include lots of other ideas, including from Western traditions and non-western traditions. Why not a course on Stoic ethics? Or on Levinas? Or on Iris Murdoch? Confucius?

    1. Good point. Bad ideas usually gain acceptance because of a superficial similarity to good ideas. In this case it seems to be the truism that the search for truth is not the same as the value for truth, so that a good scientist requires both the skill to follow a scientific system and the ethics to not cut corners when it seems convenient. Most people understand such categorical distinctions where there’s no competition between honest fact and honesty.

      Matauranga Māori isn’t just a universal system of ethics, however, or even one that’s proposed as leading to a better scientific culture. It’s very specifically linked to a particular social culture and involves knowledge of facts. This will clash with a universal system of knowledge of facts.

  3. Someone should ask the Hipkins whether, when they have a toothache, they go to a dentist, or instead consult a scholar of the mauri and whakapapa of teeth. If it is the former, then they themselves don’t accord “equal status” to any alternative to science.

    Forty years ago, the “other ways of knowing” pose was merely an affectation of a few literateurs. What happened in NZ is evidently: (1) this affectation was merged with the white guilt hustle exploited here by Robin DiAngelo & Co.; and (2) this combination took root in the Schools of Ed, and thus in the educational establishment. My hunch is that NZ’s small population size enabled a few (on the order of a half dozen?) fervent educrats to bring all this about. LOL, Aotearoa-NZ.

    1. I think so b/c it isn’t very popular with the non-Maori (which is nearly everybody. 15% is “ID as Maori” which can and often mean 1/16th, etc with no language or cultural practices. This indigenous grift is particularly unpopular with immigrants).

      There is also a class issue.
      Robin DiAngelo et al have much to do with this. Also… MANY social movements like this are lead by narcissists and psychopaths, grifters and fanatics. A fear of being labelled “racist” is big here also. The fact that this unprovable, un-defendable slur is so damaging is evidence of a REDUCTION in overall racism here and in NZ. Being called a “racist” in 1950 or 1960s was a pretty incoherent defamation.
      NYC (formerly of Auckland, NZ, 1970s/80s)

  4. I am glad and full of admiration that you’re putting forth the effort to address and discuss this situation and those related to it. Unfortunately, my own mental health is too fragile and threadbare for it to be safe for me to risk watching this presentation. The world already feels like such a hopeless place…

      1. I’m being slightly tongue in cheek, but not entirely. I do suffer from depression, and things like this are terribly frustrating, and they really don’t help me feel good about the world. On the other hand, the fact that you are addressing and calling attention to such things and presenting counter-arguments is reassuring, and helps bolster my outlook. There’s a reason I read your website every day.

        1. Don’t forget to breathe.

          Seriously – I actually find myself frequently and unconsciously barely drawing in air. Sounds nuts, but I have trained myself to compensate.

          “shallow breathing” is what some of it is named.

          Just a show of support – rough weather will pass.

  5. (Bold added – from the website where the video is):

    “Having two knowledge systems to draw on is a taonga because it helps us become aware of differences in how we see the world that might otherwise remain hidden.”

    A purely gnostic / gnosiological claim.

    Also an example of dialectic (Hegel).

    Theres other Marxist-formula quotes on there like “This was a perfect start to some critical thinking and reflection.” – recall, DiAngelo’s cult requires “lifelong … self-reflection”, and “critical” means Herbert Marcuse-style “criticism”.

    DiAngelo quote :

    “antiracism is a lifelong commitment to an ongoing process of self-reflection, self-critique and social activism.”

    So we have antiracist cult adepts praising the material to earn antiracist credits with social activism.

    1. Addendum:

      How are the “hidden differences”, once recognized, to be resolved?

      Of course, by relying on the gnostic wizards who have the answers – because normal, primitive minds could not be expected to comprehend them. Perhaps new ideas could arise, but the wizards will make sure they are correct.

  6. The video is private and won’t play directly but it will through Vimeo on clicking “Learn More.” I must say I’m impressed with the parochialism of all the speakers. And yes the Maori sentences are grating when you know how few NZers actually speak and understand Maori. (When speakers use French officially in Canada, there is always simultaneous translation. In Québec there may not be because French is the only legal language and almost everyone there does speak French.) It is incredibly divisive what they are doing here.

    This is fear. The predators smell it on the prey. The prey smell it on themselves. The leaders of the herd are hoping to be eaten last by usefully betraying their herd-mates to ingratiate themselves with the predators. They do this by creating taboos that cannot be voiced, lest they enable effective resistance that would demonstrate to the predators that the (temporary) herd leaders lack the power to hold up their end of the bargain in cowing the herd. What good are they, then?

    The educational and political authorities know exactly what they are doing.

    1. Admittedly back in the 1970s/80s I lived in Auckland for about five years on and off, went to school and summer jobbed there. I’ve never, ever met a true speaker of Maori. As late as my last visit in 2000. And I’ve always been curious, I would have followed up.
      And they’re not ghettoized at all, Polynesian people of all sorts are just about, everywhere there (in AKL at least).

      I’ve studied languages quite a bit in my life – I speak close to fluent Japanese and good Russian (picking the easy ones) and I’ve learned (particularly in monoglot countries) that between what people call “being able to speak” vs reality is a big competence gap.

      Self reported “Māori speakers” were in the low single %s as late as the mid-1990s. I gather in the last two decades pretending to be a Maori speaker has social and financial cachet, particularly with the young. (Like “trans”)

      1. You’ve hit on a key component of NZ wokeliness, David. Learning a few words of Maori is the way a Pakeha becomes trans-Maori. One flaunts this new identity by using a few Maori words like whakapapa, more or less at random. No doubt popular among certain kinds of insecure young, and British immigrants with pink hair.

  7. This is a crazy idea and a disaster that the people of New Zealand cannot separate old religious culture from science. It turns education into nonsense. However, they are doing the same thing in another areas of education right here in USA land. Down in Florida and in other states they are cleaning out the libraries and rewriting the History of this country. The kids growing up in this system are already in bad shape and this will just about finish it off for lower education in many places. All in the name of not offending a bunch of old time conservative parents or white people depending on how you define them. They have really been doing this to a great extent in private religious schools, perfectly legal and now it moves to the public schools. Some have asked, How did we get masses of people in this country to buy in to all the conspiracy garbage. You do not have to look far. It does not take long to turn a country into an authoritarian government and all of this just helps it along.

    1. I don’t think your attempt to make this about America instead of New Zealand rings true, Randall. For better or worse, the conservative right Christians in the United States sincerely believe literally what they are pushing — it is their own religious ideology. In New Zealand, the authorities are capitulating, for reasons best known to themselves, to the demands of a race-based outsider ideology that they themselves do not believe, and will eventually displace and destroy them.

      Further, it is likely the young Maori hard men do not actually believe the literal truth of mātauranga Māori themselves. (Seriously, how could anyone? Just read what you are supposed to say you believe.) They are happy to use it, first to co-opt people of good will who perhaps sincerely wish their ancestors had never moved to the New Zealand colony to oppress the Maori among whom they find themselves today. Then, from that power base, they and their white allies march through the institutions intimidating people with charges of racism if they don’t go along. Standing outside the educational and scientific establishment there are more motorcycle gang members than there are police and soldiers in NZ — the world’s highest per capita gang membership — and they control the gun and drug traffic. (And the gangs have been more successful in recruiting than the police have been.) The Christian right doesn’t do anything like this in the United States.

      1. Yeah, the far right over here haven’t done anything like that. They are overhauling the educational system in the United States, that is all. And they performed an insurrection just a couple of years ago. Just because the coup failed and most are going to prison, just a small thing compared to drugs and gangs in New Zealand. Have you listened to that nut DeSantis?

  8. It appears that something similar is starting in the US with a recent $30 million NSF program. I am not saying its to the degree that NZ finds itself, but perhaps just the beginning? The idea that indigenous people do science with “stories” and “many ways of knowing” appear in this nature news article.


  9. Wait. It seems like there is a tremendous solution built right into these slides for people worried about the degradation of science and science education in NZ. From the slide on “equal status”:

    “Each knowledge system is judged according to its own internal integrity and fitness for purpose.

    “Appropriation of distinctive features of one knowledge system into the other is avoided (appropriation of Mātauranga Māori into the science knowledge system is a form of recolinisation, no matter how well intentioned.

    “Equal status does not necessarily imply equal time. Knowledge systems are brought together when there is a constructive reason for doing so.”

    So that’s a recipe for clarity and separation of concerns: Judge each by its fitness for purpose, don’t appropriate one into the other, and give time to each as appropriate. Sounds good to me. Let science decide the truth claims about the material universe; leave truth claims about NZ culture to MM.

    It also provides a constructive way for educators to reject the intrusion of MM into science curricula: Stop trying to recolonize!

    1. This answer is well-meaning, but ludicrous when you know the NZ context. What Rosemary Hipkins was criticizing when she brought up “recolonization” was *the Ministry of Education’s own curriculum from 2021-2*. In other words, MoE 2023 is saying that MoE 2022’s science curriculum was “recolonizating.”

      But – crucial point – the MoE 2021-2 curriculum *is the one* that included “mauri” in atomic particles, replaced mentions of evolution with whakapapa, and much else. All this was done explicitly under the Ministry’s much-trumpetted and heavily-pushed and moralizing policy of “mana orite: Equal status for Matauranga Māori.” And the MoE had numerous consultative boards and panels etc to allegedly ensure that Māori voices were included through out the whole design process 2020-2021.

      Science teachers that objected to the “mauri” thing in chemistry in 2021 were steamrolled and referred by the MoE to the mana orite policy.

      Only when it became sufficiently embarrassing to the MoE did they reverse course in late 2022 and strip most (not all) of the mauri etc stuff out of the curriculum. And now the message that Hipkins et al are telling science teachers in PLD events is that last year’s policy, which science teachers were being arm-twisted into until recently, was actually “recolonization.” It’s risible.

      What is really going on is left-wing ideological games guided not by reality or science but by activist rhetoric shorn of any firm basis, in an environment where free discussion and critical thinking are frowned upon.

      The new “two knowledge systems” approach is more of the same, this time it’s just postmodernist relativism.

  10. This is disgusting. It’s not only the content, but cheerful ardor with which the two ladies present. Note one of the standard tactics of the “woke,” namely to redefine terms, in this case “knowledge.” The video might be acceptable at some level if MM were presented as a “cultural system” rather than a “knowledge system” (it is not). Thanks, Jerry, for your efforts to keep science pure and apart from such corruption.

    1. “Note one of the standard tactics of the “woke,” namely to redefine terms, in this case “knowledge.” ”

      This pre-dates the Woke cult. The origins are in post-modern/structural/colonialism – especially Herbert Marcuse (“alchemy of the word” – from Counter-revolution and revolt), and further back, Marx, then Hegel, and possibly Rousseau.

      Once the ability to read like a Marxist is grasped, lots of things make sense.

      Also note that good Marxists will say all of that is wrong and I haven’t read any of it, or is not true Marxism (e.g. “vulgar Marxism”).

      It is a cult religion. They use “alchemy” in their literature. It is designed to sound like critics are making a strawman. In this case, the words are Trojan Horses for future advances. See Counter Wokecraft by James Lindsay and Charles Pincourt. I am not affiliated at all I just read any literature I can.

      Sorry it takes so long to write out. I blame post-modernism.

  11. The slideshow contains quotes from the paper “Transforming knowledge systems for life on Earth: Visions of future systems and how to get there”, which is freely available: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629620302991

    An excerpt:
    “Knowledge, and the systems supporting its production, are no exception. Knowledge systems include the practices, routines, structures, mindsets, values and cultures affecting what and how knowledge is produced and used, and by whom. Such systems include elements (institutions, structures, assumptions, values, standards); functions (generation, validation, communication and application of knowledge); and contexts (organizational, operational, political). Formalised knowledge systems can be taken to include the elements, functions, and contexts associated with universities, research institutes, non-government and government organizations. These systems produce knowledge and technology developed through the sciences, social sciences, humanities, the arts, industry and commerce. Formalised knowledge systems (herein knowledge systems) are closely intertwined with society, economies and cultures and are integral to shaping the way societies develop, function and mobilise resources.”

    Here “knowledge system” doesn’t refer to a body of knowledge (i.e. “an arranged whole of information” [OED] as represented by scientific textbooks) but to a cluster of social (scientific, political, economic) systems (or “power structures”, as the Foucauldian left would say), i.e. institutions or organizations, which are involved in the social production or “construction” of knowledge (or what counts as such in a society).

    Moreover, woke epistemic relativists intentionally blur the distinction between knowledge and mere belief—between science on the one hand and mythology or philosophy on the other hand.

    By the way, the very term “sociology of knowledge” is a misnomer insofar as its subject matter is not knowledge or information /qua established facts/, but “whatever passes for ‘knowledge’ in a society, regardless of the ultimate validity or invalidity (by whatever criteria) of such ‘knowledge’.” (* Thus defined, the so-called sociology of knowledge is actually a sociology of /belief/.

    (* Berger, Peter L., and Thomas Luckmann. /The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge./ New York: Doubleday & Co., 1966. p. 3)

    1. In their eagerness then to legitimize the cultural knowledge system of the Māori by establishing the prevalence of specialized beliefs within subgroups, they’re also laying the grounds for legitimizing the Truths of subgroups they don’t like. The Nazis weren’t “wrong” to claim what they did about the Jews; it’s perfectly consistent with their knowledge system and who’s to judge?

  12. “as somehow sacred, with a culture and “knowledge system” that are beyond criticism.” Yup. Canada is facing the same issues and Canadians just seem to be sucking it up, falling all over themselves to accord indigenous Canadians with some kind of mysticism and infallibility. I suspect it’s part of the guilt-fest, but it’s to the tune of billions and billions and billions of Canadian taxpayer dollars.

  13. Mauri could be thought of as Chi/Qi/Ki, or at least they are the same basic concept. Then they are now involving it in geothermal power.

    Aotearoa was first recorded in the 1850s if I’m not mistaken when almost every other placename in Te Reo was probably recorded decades before and may have been conned by a Brit while translating the legend of Kupe in the 1840s!
    Too bad, a very poetic name, I have no shame in saying that. In 1835 they used a Te Reo translation of New Zealand ironically.

    1. Anthony Poole, one of our sane scientists, has an interesting article mentiong ki and mauri here. https://openinquiry.nz/japans-path-to-becoming-leaders-in-western-science-an-asian-perspective-on-science-and-other-forms-of-knowledge/ I don’t altogether agree with him – I think he gives too much ground, and I strongly disagree with NOMA, but, such is the intellectual climate here, people have to speak carefully.
      Re Aotearoa, maybe my circle of acquaintances is limited, but I have yet to meet a single person who refers to New Zealand as that. Or to Auckland as Tamaki Matauru.

      1. That part of Japanese history is amazing (I can be one of those nerds!).
        That is a great story and probably true, at that time in that part of the world cutting up a human corpse was seen as shameful and unholy and to be fair it was on the other side as well until recently by that books standard.

        Physics were not really something that caught on over there. In China and Japan despite being amazing at working with the world around them had a belief that understanding the nature of the universe other than what they could see and use in front of them was impossible for mortal humans. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science_and_technology_in_China#Scientific_and_technological_stagnation

        Neither. I do like much of the poetic names though. And there is record from over 200 years for many I think.

        1. In the case of China, this is relevant. https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/display/document/obo-9780199920082/obo-9780199920082-0006.xml

          And from Needham (via the wonderful book “Calendrical Calculations” – https://www.amazon.com/Calendrical-Calculations-Ultimate-Edward-Reingold/dp/1107683165) and apologies to our host for the length of the quote, I think of this every time I hear some one going on about the deep intuitive wisdom of the maramataka (ie Māori lunar calendar)

          The complexity of calendars is due simply to the incommensurability of the fundamental periods on which they are based . . . Calendars based on [the synodic month], depending only on lunations, make the seasons unpredictable, while calendars based on [the tropical year] cannot predict the full moons, the importance of which in ages before the introduction of artificial illuminants was considerable. The whole history of calendar-making, therefore, is that of successive attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable, and the numberless systems of intercalated months, and the like, are thus of minor scientific interest. The treatment here will therefore be deliberately brief.

          1. One must work with what one has I always say. Something reasonable is better than nothing at all. Any fool can count.
            I think it was a Greek who first worked it out, but it was independently done by many.

            I had to do a little reading up before answering as this is not my subject!

    2. You are right, Mauri is a life-force/-energy like Qi; so the metaphysics of Matauranga Maori is fundamentally vitalistic. But in contemporary natural science, particularly biology, vitalism is as dead as the dodo—for good reasons.

      1. I’ve always put vitalism in the same boat, partly because all I’ve read about it is mystical.

        I like the mythology, I like the art and at high school the Te Reo teachers were some of the few who treated me with respect, but I also know the world I live in.

  14. Good luck, NZ, when you need to respond to a threat that demands scientific expertise—an epidemic, a natural disaster, a crop failure, the imminent extinction one of your rare species due to climate change or habitat destruction. The “experts” won’t have any idea what to do and the populace will be so confused that they won’t be able to help. This is so sad and unnecessary. It’s an unforced error that will damage the country for generations.

    1. LOL this is already happening. Google this
      nz met service atua kia tau
      you will see a message from our govt owned science service department, responding to cyclone gabrielle, (which killed several people, including children), to chill out, it’s just the Maori gods doing their thing.

  15. Apart from their farcical claptrap thesis, what is going on with their presentation? There are inconsistent font colours and sizes, the text isn’t properly justified, and the iconography and slide background are really amateurish. It looks like something a first-time user of Powerpoint 97 would produce immediately after receiving their first computer.

    It says a lot about their consistency, attention to detail and personal pride if they are happy to publish these slides. They’re sloppy, unprofessional and inconsistent, so it’s no surprise their thinking is similarly substandard.

    My verdict is:
    1 out 10 for content, and
    2 out of 10 for presentation

  16. Following the slides, I discover that:

    “In the mātauranga Māori knowledge system, categories that group components are organised around functional relationships. Tuatara are seen as “revered protectors of the realm of Tāne”. They are kaitiaki of knowledge, with wisdom attributed to their long life span and their third eye.”

    And the evidence that there is a functional relationship and tuataras have these powers is…? Then following the tuatara link, I discover that:

    “To some iwi, they [tuataras]are protectors of sacred items, places, individuals, tribes and highly treasured protectors of mauri. To other iwi they are messengers of Whiro*,ariki or tapu… “
    *(whiro= lord of darkness, embodiment of evil)

    So different NZ pupils will ‘learn’ different functional relationships, depending on the local iwi’s version of matauranga Maori.

    Are these people serious? As Orwell noted, ‘There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.’

    1. “they are messengers of Whiro*,ariki or tapu… “
      *(whiro= lord of darkness, embodiment of evil)”

      A gnostic position – see “Demiurge”.

      All this distraction is really beside the point – the World Economic Forum and the UN are interested in literally controlling the world – through the SDGs – one country at a time. Nobody will be spared – the Māori, “white guys”, anyone – unless maybe they can get to the Inner Circle of wizards.

  17. I’m just being curious: What scientifically relevant discoveries did the Maoris make (which weren’t equally made by other peoples)?

  18. The ritual of the Tangi (Maori funeral) which is held over 3 days is starting to prove a more effective way of grieving the loss of loved ones than traditional western ways. This is an example of what can be learnt from Maori culture and contributes to the field of Psychological Science. There are more examples I am sure. Question Scientists, what are you afraid of??

    1. Excuse me, but could you provide the DATA (presumably a paper) showing that Maori funerals are “more effective ways of grieving the loss of loved ones than “traditional Western ways”? I don’t want anecdotes; I want data with measures of grieving. I am waiting. . .

      I’m not afraid of anything; I’m waiting for examples of where MM has proved a more effective way of understanding nature than modern science.

      Please read the posting roolz on civility re your last sentence.

  19. You can give feedback – my comment a link to this page with a note thank goodness for Jerry Coyne. Also thank goodness that my daughter has finished high school.

  20. Re Hipkins on “agency”. She is also the author of a truly dreadful book “Teaching for Complex Systems Thinking”, and I think she is intending to refer to some of the ideas going under the general heading of “Complex Adaptive Systems”, rather than “mauri” as such. Murray Gell-Mann talks about “agents” a lot in “The Quark and the Jaguar”, and it strikes me that Hipkins has taken some of the words used in modern attempts to understand complex systems without having a clue about the substance.

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