Te Runanga o Ngati Porou Chairman Apirana Mahuika says there is a need for relationship building between scientists and iwi.
He told the Royal Society's transit of Venus science forum in Gisborne that scientists in universities need to get out of their ivory towers and sit down with Maori so they understand where real science should be applied.
Mr Mahuika says Maori do things differently from other sectors of society because they work collectively in everything they do.
He says whanau and whanaungatanga (the relationship to one another) is the driving force which has allowed Maori to survive for so long, and will be the survival point going into the future.
Mr Mahuika says Ngati Porou has been working with the Ministry of Science and Innovation in an effort to find a place for science in the iwi's growing economy.