Examining the contribution of Mātauranga Māori to Climate Health in Aotearoa

Words by Ken Taiapa 


The research was developed to explore the contribution of mātauranga towards climate health outcomes in Aotearoa. The research team, Kenneth Taiapa and Summer Wright, are also supported by a rōpū tautoko including Rhys Jones, Bridgette Masters-Awatere, and Christina McKerchar. The findings will contribute towards a growing body of knowledge on the health-giving relationships between Indigenous Peoples and te taiao. The research uses key informant interviews guided by kaupapa Māori methodologies to collect stories from people from around the motu who have experience in initiatives that draw on mātauranga to support the restoration of te taiao. We are interviewing up to 10 participants, who we are identifying through personal networks from the research team and the rōpū tautoko, combined with snowballing techniques. To date interviews have been varied and informative on a range of topics, with people from diverse backgrounds. Kaupapa have spanned taiao initiatives, climate policy, and methodological frameworks for climate-health. While we are still yet to analyse the data, at a glance some points of interest include: 

  • Need to de-silo western science methods and use them in tandem with kaupapa Māori approaches
  • Māori-led policy for climate health is not only best for Māori but also benefits everyone else, because it is holistic in identifying and solving problems.
  • Restoration of mātauranga Māori is climate action; ensuring transmission of locally specific knowledge enables outcomes for taiao 
  • Māramataka and tohu o te taiao critical for climate change adaptation.


At this stage we are still completing interviews, and will move into data analysis once we reach our target. The final report is due in June 2023 and we will co-author this with Professor Helen Moewaka Barnes, and explore any other potential publications from the data. 


“Restoration of mātauranga Māori is climate action”