Following my time at music school, I discovered a passion for iwi histories and traditions, mātauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge. During that early period, I devoured Te Reo Māori, waiata, whakapapa, karakia, whakataukī and much more, as much as I could. Just as I had inspiring moments with music, I had inspiring moments with mātauranga Māori too. That same inspiration continues today and my work in indigenous knowledge contains the following aspects:
Iwi Histories and Traditions, including teaching, research and also being a pūkōrero upon our marae and custodian of the whakapapa of my family
Mātauranga Māori Creativity, particularly through the whare tapere and the whare wānanga.
A philosophy of indigenous knowledge and indigeneity
Iwi Histories and Traditions
I find iwi histories and traditions incredibly rich, nuanced and diverse. I have spent a lot of time exploring iwi histories and traditions. In 1992, I published a small guide to researching iwi/tribal histories and traditions entitled Te Haurapa. In 1994, I completed a book on the traditional mōteatea/songs of Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Toarangatira, called Kāti au i konei. I also assisted Taimoana Tūroa of Ngāti Tamaterā of Hauraki in completing his book entitled Te Takoto o te whenua o Hauraki: Hauraki Landmarks in 2000. I published another book of iwi histories and traditions entitled ‘Native Traditions by Hukiki te Ahu Karamu o Otaki Jany 1st 1856’. This book is a presentation of a small book of whakapapa written at the dictation of my Ngāti Raukawa ancestor, Hūkiki Te Ahukaramū. I continue to research and teach iwi histories and traditions and am actively involved in my own marae (and other marae too) as a speaker and teacher. My key mentors have been Tūkawekai Kereama - and his sisters Rangiamohia Parata and Rīria Kukutai - of Ngāti Raukawa, Pateriki Te Rei of Ngāti Toarangatira, Ngārongo Iwikātea Nicholson of Ngāti Raukawa, Taimoana Tūroa and Huhurere Tukukino of Ngāti Tamaterā. I am also indebted to Toko Renata Te Taniwha of Ngāti Whanaunga and Rikiriki Rākena of Ngāti Tamaterā.
My early mentor in indigenous knowledge and philosophy was my granduncle Rev. Māori Marsden, a graduate of the Ngā Puhi whare wānanga, a tohunga and a Anglican Minister. Māori was one of the few writers of his generation who shared his thinking and ideas about mātauranga Māori/traditional Māori knowledge and attempting to offer something of a 'bridge' between the old world and the new. I was fortunate to collect his writings together into a book called The Woven Universe: Selected Writings of Rev. Māori Marsden.
Another early mentor and teacher was Prof Whatarangi Winiata of Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Tamaterā. Whatarangi appointed me Director of Graduate Studies and Research at Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa in the period 1996-2002. Whatarangi introduced me to mātauranga Māori as a formal subject and my day to day responsibility was to design and deliver a masters programme in mātauranga Māori. As there had been very little writing about mātauranga Māori to that point, I set myself the task of preparing new material in the Māori language as an introduction for my students. The outcome of this journey was the publication of Te Ngākau: He Wānanga i te Mātauranga, a text in Māori about knowledge and mātauranga Māori.
Following my time at Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa, I then wrote a series of monographs on aspects of mātauranga Māori. This series of writings is collectively entitled Te Kaimānga: Towards a New Vision for Mātauranga Māori. These four monographs, together with a number of other reports and miscellaneous writings form a body of work all on aspects of mātauranga Māori. The key thrust of these writings is to demonstrate that mātauranga Māori continues to exist in Aotearoa-New Zealand - albeit in a fragmentary and somewhat disorganised form - and that it retains much 'creative potential' which can be positively applied in a range of ways. You can purchase a number of these reports here.
My interest now is to focus more directly on the concept of wānanga, a traditional Māori word we can most closely associate with creativity and innovation. More generally, I now use this term to refer to creativity within an updated mātauranga Māori tradition, a kind of creativity which makes use of ideas and perspectives on knowledge and knowing found within mātauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge generally. Hence, my thinking, research and writing in philosophy are focused upon the following:
the creative uses of mātauranga Māori today, the fostering of wānanga in Māori communities
developing an understanding of indigeneity today, the potential impact and significance of indigenous worldview and cultures in our world today
These activities are conducted within a milieu of seeking contributions to contemporary indigenous/Māori development and the contribution of indigeneity to the world at large. To this end, my work is also focused upon 'interculturalism' - understanding and fostering the capability to successfully interact and engage across cultures, a capability that increases in need today.