ASLEC-ANZ plenary

Pauline Harris

Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Rakaipaka, Ngāti Kahungunu; Senior Lecturer, Centre for Science in Society, VUW

“The Great Reconnect: Creating a Sustainable world through Indigenous frameworks”

Māori, like many other Indigenous peoples, have a connection to the world that stems from genealogical relationships called whakapapa. Rooted in the cosmological narratives of the formation of the Universe from Te Kore, the great potential, whakapapa describes the development of the Universe from the stars, planets, earth and sky, to all animals including humans. Whakapapa describes humans as being related to everything: rivers, mountains, wind, rains, heatwaves, space, insects, fish, plants, Papatuanuku (mother earth) and Ranginui (sky father). This worldview encourages connectedness, responsibility, accountability and more. 

Parts of humanity at one point had this similar worldview, however over time this has been silenced and disconnected. Without connectedness the sense of care and empathy for the world around us becomes more difficult. With growing issues of climate change, pollution, over consumption and endangered species, how can we as humanity reconnect to the Universe, the living beings around us and to each other to deepen the understanding of the implications of our own actions? 

In this talk I will discuss how Māori frameworks can help develop a relationship with the world around you that can lead to behavioural and relational growth and a more sustainable future.

Dr Pauline Harris is an astrophysicist, from the Centre For Science in Society at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. She has a background in physics, completing her PhD and Master’s at Canterbury University, centred around gamma ray bursts, high-energy neutrino production and inflationary cosmology. She now focuses on mātauranga Māori associated with Māori astronomy and traditional Māori calendars called Maramataka. She is extensively involved in the Māori community and is an active member of a number of trust boards. Currently, she is the Chairperson of the Society of Māori Astronomy Research and Traditions (SMART), where she is dedicated to the collation and the revitalization of Māori astronomical star lore and Maramataka.