Our Research

NPM research solves real world challenges facing Māori. We do so in Māori-determined and inspired ways engendering sustainable relationships that grow the mana (respect and regard) and mauri (life essence) of the world we inhabit.

The excellence and expertise of the Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga researcher network is organised by four Te Ao Māori knowledge and excellence clusters or Pae. Pae are where our researchers rise with Te Ao Māori knowledge, tools and expertise to build a secure and prosperous future for Māori and Aotearoa New Zealand. Pae are purposefully expansive and inclusive, supporting transdisciplinary teams and approaches. Our 2021-2024 programme of work will look to the far future to assure flourishing Māori futures for generations to come. With Māori intended as the primary beneficiaries of our research, our programme will reinforce the firmly established foundations of mātauranga Māori through sound research attuned to the lived experience of Māori.

Four Pātai or critical systems-oriented questions generate transformative interventions and policy advice for stakeholders and next users. All of our research will contribute mātauranga-informed theories, models and evidenced solutions in response to our Pātai. Our Pātai serve to integrate and energise our programme and Pae to synthesize our research for next stage impact and outcomes.

We have identified a set of questions relating to indigenous data governance, ownership and access, along with potential solutions for benefit sharing and value generation.

What are the key challenges to realising indigenous data sovereignty and how might they be addressed?

What are the key mechanisms needed to realise indigenous data sovereignty at global, national and local scales?

What is the transformative potential of indigenous data sovereignty for Māori?

Project commenced:

What can be learnt and applied now from traditional knowledge and adaptation to future environmental and resource issues?

This project seeks to understand how quickly early Māori society changed from its initial wasteful use of environmental resources soon after the Polynesian migrations, to then live within its ecological means in the face of resource decline pressures. These pressures were largely caused by ongoing extinctions and depletion, compounded by adverse climate change during the period 1350-1900.

Project commenced:

Intern: Kendrex Kereopa-Woon

Supervisor: Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki

University of Waikato

Project commenced:

What aspects of mātauranga Māori are relevant to Māori-medium schools, for example mātauranga pūtaiao, that promote the wellbeing of the students, the kura, the place and the community?

Project commenced:

Intern: Jonothan Rau

Supervisor: Dr Shaun Awatere

Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga/Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research

This research project seeks to identify horticultural land use opportunities in Māori-owned Wairoa, Te Tairawhiti rohe. The outcomes of this project are to monitor and assess current soil and water trends to determine the most suitable crops for preventing wind and water erosion. Methods include district scale spatial analysis (Reid et. al 2006) to determine the most suitable crops, of which are saffron, feijoa and gevuina.

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How can New Zealand’s state legal system recalibrate to challenge the Crown’s assumption of sovereignty over lands and waters treasured by Māori?

Drawing on the research findings of the other Te Tai Ao foundational projects, this project will lead to new laws, policies, plans and models for government and iwi/Māori communities, and will enable Māori to reassert traditional knowledge in governing land, water and resources to better enable flourishing Māori health, wellbeing and prosperity. 

Project commenced:

Intern: Deane-Rose Ngātai-Tua

Supervisor: Dr Wayne Ngata

Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington


This summer internship project explores nga uri o matihiko –the Māori digital generation. Qualitative research and input from digital natives provides insight into the behaviours, thoughts and actions and how identity is informed by a digital culture.

Project commenced:

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How can a pūtaiao ‘living laboratory’ approach that uses local learning environments help rangatahi Māori reclaim science in Te Hiku?

Our aim is to “science-up” Māori communities by exploring the untapped potential of our

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What is the potential for new governing structures to intervene in persisting social, cultural, political and economic inequalities that disproportionately accrue to Māori?

The multiple accountabilities of Māori leaders to whānau and community members, beneficiaries and external stakeholders make Māori governance challenges unique. Māori entities are collective, ancestry based and do not have easy exit mechanisms for owners and so Māori governance poses complex challenges.

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What are the distinctive dimensions and drivers of innovative Māori leadership and integrated decision making, and how do these characteristics deliver pluralistic outcomes that advance transformative and prosperous Māori economies of wellbeing?

A diverse range of Māori leadership practices have contributed to the development of a Māori economy with a current estimated asset base of $42.6 billion, yet the role of mātauranga and tikanga Māori within leadership practices is poorly understood.

Project commenced:

Intern: Jovan Mokaraka-Harris

Supervisor: Wendy Henwood

SHORE & Whariki Reseach Centre

College of Health, Massey University

This summer internship project uses Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS – ‘drone’) technologies to record images within the Tapuwae block. The purpose of this research is to examine future possibilities of cultural mapping, observe environmental links and monitoring environmental change.

Project commenced:

Intern: Te Okahurangi Ngahana-Hartley

Supervisor: Drs Rangi Matamua and Hēmi Whaanga

The University of Waikato


Project commenced:

What is the pedagogy of pūrākau, and how does it operate as an Indigenous story work approach to advance kaupapa Māori research and innovative contributions to broader research and pedagogical processes within Aotearoa?

Given this is a scoping proposal, the following questions are pertinent to the investigation of the above research question:

What is the theory, methodology, and pedagogy of pūrākau? How was it used in traditional Māori society, and how is it utilised today?

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What strategies and resources are effective in establishing te reo Māori in the home to raise first language Māori-speaking children?

Project commenced:

What are the threshold concepts for undergraduate study in the field of Māori studies?

How can the identification of Māori studies’ threshold concepts be used to support teaching and student achievement in Māori studies programmes?

According to Māori oral tradition, Te Ihonga was a demi-god who could tie intricate knots. The resulting entanglements became known as ‘te ruru a Te Ihonga’ (the ties of Te Ihonga) (Mead and Grove 2001:206). They were regarded as so complicated and secure that only people who knew Te Ihonga’s secret were thought to be able to untie them.

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Our main question is ‘do hapū and Iwi  views  and practices provide an alternative paradigm to New Zealand’s biosecurity system to better protect our taonga species?

Project commenced:

The project aims to contribute to the intellectual infrastructure of the discipline of te reo Māori revitalisation by collating oral, visual digital and written sources, including a dictionary, thesaurus and repositories of waiata, haka, and narrative recordings. 

The project will answer the following research questions:

Project commenced:

What is the cost of Māori health inequities in Aotearoa?              

In New Zealand, the most compelling and consistent health inequalities occur between Māori and non-Māori.  Although the cost of reducing inequalities is perceived as high, a recent study for Māori children showed that the economic cost of “doing nothing” is significant for New Zealand society highlighting the fact that such inequalities are preventable, unnecessary and a breach of human rights.

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