17 Jun 2013

Researcher to teach traditional Maori astronomy

7:30 pm on 17 June 2013

A Victoria University astrophysicist is examining how ancient Maori astronomy can be utilised by modern Maori.

Dr Pauline Harris is carrying out a nationwide study of celestial navigation, and will present her findings as part of the Matariki celebrations.

For the past year, Dr Harris, of Rongomaiwahine and Ngati Kahungunu, has been researching tribal moon calendars, which Maori once relied on for navigation and for seasonal farming and fishing.

Her findings on the modern day uses of this knowledge will be released later this year, but she will share some of her insights this week as part of Matariki.

Dr Harris says her aim is to open the minds of New Zealanders to the ancient Maori system, so it can be taught alongside Pakeha/Western knowledge.

She says in time her findings will to contribute a resurgence of Maori identity by ensuring Maori communities understand more about traditional astronomy, and can apply it to their daily lives.

The research will also be developed into educational books for school children.