Māori astronomer wins top science prize
A Tūhoe astronomer, well-known for his work in helping to elevate the understanding of Matariki as a significant occasion for New Zealanders, is the first Māori to win one of the country’s top science awards.
University of Waikato Professor Rangi Matamua who was awarded the Prime Minister’s Science Communications Prize, worth $100,000, from the Royal Society of New Zealand was congratulated by HPF on the prestigious award.
HPF’s Deputy Executive Director Trevor Simpson said Prof Matamua was an important repository for Maori lore and the indigenous scientific knowledge.
“In Indigenous Maori health promotion, we recognise the importance of Maori universal views, the interconnectedness and interdependence of all things whether seen or unseen,” said Mr Simpson.
“On this basis his work literally illuminates for us all the wisdom of our ancestors – a way to see the cosmos as our forebears did with a deeper understanding.”
Prof Matamua who is the author of the best-selling book Matariki: The Star of the Year, written in both English and te reo Māori said he was a scientific practitioner from a Māori point of view.
“I believe I practise that every day, and every evening when I am out looking at the night sky. I am looking for certain scientific elements, but I’m also looking at deity, genealogy, and traditional cultural narratives that are woven into the tapestry that is the night sky.”
He hopes one day Matariki, given it is unique to New Zealand, will become the most significant event in Aotearoa.