Indigenous | Matauranga

Te Awe Kōtuku protected mātauranga Māori at height of pandemic - report

Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kōtuku programme. Video: supplied / Aiko Ltd

The Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kōtuku programme (Te Awe Kōtuku) made a positive impact by supporting more than a dozen initiatives for iwi, hapū, whānau and Māori communities to safeguard at-risk mātauranga.

That’s the finding of Aiko Ltd.’s independent evaluation of the programme, which funded $24.5 million over three years for a series of mātauranga Māori revitalisation projects.

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s Joe Fowler said the evaluation highlighted how Te Awe Kōtuku supported Māori communities.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see how the Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kōtuku programme will have long-term benefits for Māori and New Zealand for years to come.

“The programme enabled many communities to revitalise or rediscover their mātauranga which will mean that the next generation can carry this knowledge into the future.

“Aiko’s evaluation is an incredible resource that documents not only the impact of Te Awe Kōtuku but lessons that can help shape future decisions to further preserve, protect and share mātauranga Māori,” Fowler said.

The programme was first announced in May 2020 as part of the Arts and Culture Covid Recovery Programme.

The money for the funding has officially dried up, but many of the ringatoi, tohunga and mātanga expressed a desire for the Crown to continue funding it, but emphasised the importance of remaining at arms’ length in light of historic interference with Māori affairs.

Aiko Ltd’s assessment showed the beneficial effect the programme had on participants, highlighting several key points:

  • Protection of mātauranga at risk of being lost
  • Increased access to and participation in mātauranga, including the reclamation of mātauranga that had been dormant for generations
  • Improved health and wellbeing for whānau, hapū, kaumātua, rangatahi
  • Strengthened connections to cultural identity and pride
  • Building the capacity and capability of a new generation of practitioners
  • Digital innovation that both preserved mātauranga and helped to uncover new knowledge and understanding
  • Celebrating the contribution of te ao Māori and the depth and breadth of mātauranga.

It was overseen by Manatū Taonga and involved a collaborative effort among government and cultural agencies with specialist expertise in mātauranga and taonga Māori.

Agencies involved included Creative New Zealand, Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, Te Matatini, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand and Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs.

Those agencies worked in partnership with art practitioners, Māori-led arts organisations and collectives, marae, hapū and iwi to help deliver the programme successfully.

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Ellen Andersen believed this was an “incredible opportunity” for Māori communities.

“Our programme focused on Māori architectural and landscape heritage and enabled 103 wānanga and 55 journeys through ancestral landscapes as part of the programme.”

Paula Carr from Creative New Zealand said the programme provided vital support to protect and sustain critically endangered ngā toi Māori form, highlighting the scarcity of senior, experienced practitioners with the necessary mātauranga and technical knowledge.

“Our Toi Ake – Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kōtuku programme supported 45 ngā toi Māori programmes sharing a diverse range of Māori artforms and practice knowledge, including ngā tae oneone, whāriki, kōwhaiwhai, tā moko, tūrapa/tukutuku, karanga, whakairo, mōteatea and specific iwi and hapū arts practice knowledge.

“The Te Awe Kōtuku programme provided much-needed support to start the process of retaining mātauranga toi that will be beneficial to future generations of New Zealanders. Although the time-limited funding for the programme has stopped, the importance of this kaupapa remains,” Carr said.