csis response to ‘in defence of science’ letter

We, staff in the Centre for Science in Society, resolutely oppose the recent letter by several established professors, which argues against the incorporation of Mātauranga Māori into the NCEA curriculum.  

As an interdisciplinary group of scholars whose remit is the relationships between science and society, we note that the letter manages to misrepresent both ‘Western Science’ and Mātauranga Māori. It is worth pointing out that the proposed NCEA changes, which would incorporate mātauranga Māori into the NCEA curriculum and provide more intellectual resources for students seeking to understand and study their world, can only represent a positive development for the students of Aotearoa.  

Rather than speaking over Māori experts who have already articulated thoughtful and detailed responses, we instead direct readers to some of these original sources: 

  • Tina Ngata presents a systematic critique of the logic and claims of the original letter here.  
  • This panel, with Rangi Mātāmua, Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, and Tina Ngata, explains Mātauranga Māori and why the initial letter is both incorrect and damaging 
  • Professor Stephen May unpacks some of the fallacies about science that undergird the original letter in this commentary
  • And here, two Year 11 students who have been studying Māori and Pasifika science talk about how that education enriched their understanding of science as well as their own whakapapa.  

Additionally, we acknowledge the responses by the NZ Association of Scientists, the Royal Society Te Apārangi, the NZ Ecological Society, and many of our colleagues.  

Finally, we would like to highlight the considerable labour and stress that falls to Māori scholars, experts and educators as a result of having to defend their mātauranga, noting that this is a sustained pattern and not a one-off event.  

A pdf of this statement can be found here.

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