Professor Rangi Matamua wins Prime Minister's Prize

On Tuesday 30 June NPM Principal Investigator and University of Waikato academic Professor Rangi Matamua (Tūhoe) was awarded the top Science Communications Prize from the Royal Society Te Apārangi at the Prime Minister's Science Awards.

NPM congratulates Rangi on this outstanding achievement and award, recognising his excellence in research and science communications, engaging communities in mātauranga Māori, Māori research and insights.

Rangi is based in the School of Māori and Pacific Development at Waikato University and has produced significant research in the areas of Māori language revitalisation, Māori culture, Māori astronomy and broadcasting. He was a NPM-Fulbright Scholar in 2014 and is a member of NPM’s Research Committee.

The prize is awarded to a practicing scientist who can demonstrate an interest, passion and aptitude for science communication and public engagement, or to someone who has developed expertise in public engagement or can communicate complex scientific information – and it is fitting for this significant award to go to Rangi during this time of the 2020 Matariki celebrations.

In recent years, Rangi has undertaken significant sharing  on Māori celestial knowledge to wider and more diverse audiences, both Māori and Pākehā and navigating the western science space that in a recent Radio New Zealand interview Rangi noted has only just started "to acknowledge some of the knowledge basis' that exist outside of their own parameters as being science.  In 2013 he undertook the NPM research project ‘Ringihia i te ketenui a Tane: The language of the stars’ – and this research, work and outcomes continue.

"Just look at what our ancestors did to navigate here - you don't do that on myths and legends, you don't do that on spirituality, you do that on science.

"I think there is empirical science embedded within traditional Māori knowledge... but what they did to make it meaningful and have purpose is they encompassed it within cultural narratives and spirituality and belief systems, so it wasn't just seen as this clinical part of society that was devoid of any other connection to our world, it was included into everything.

"To me, that cultural element gives our science a completely new and deep and rich layer of meaning."

We are very pleased to announce that Professor Matamua has been re-confirmed as our keynote presenter in NPM's 3 day online conference - A Gathering of Indigenous Minds - which is running from the 18-20 November, 2020.

View a presentation by Rangi Matamua on his earlier NPM research given at a NPM Horizons of Insight Seminar

Rangi has also written the best selling books Matariki: Te Whetū Tapu o te Tau and Matariki: The Star of the Year