TTW letter to the NZ Listener July 2021

This Listener chose not to print this letter.

July 27, 2021
The Editor, New Zealand Listener

As scientists ourselves we disagree with the attack on mātauranga Māori effected under the cloak provided by a claim to be writing ‘In defence of science’ (July 31, 2021). Central to the practice of the science, that the writers claim is universal, is the strict separation of the scientist from the object, topic or reality being studied. That disjunction between practitioners and what they studied contributed to an explosion of technological advances across Western Europe and those advances aided the exploitation and colonization of other countries and peoples. As if buoyed by those triumphs, the separation of the (would-be) knowers from what they sought to know about became the hallmark of a science expected to deliver universal truths about the natural world, its peoples and societies.

Coupled with a readiness to constantly subdivide and isolate elements of the complex systems being studied this science simply ignored and, for the most part, continues to ignore, the role of scientists and other humans in those dynamic systems. The result is that the very practice expected to provide reliable knowledge creates a distortion because this form of science assumes that practitioners can step apart from the human activity of which they are necessarily part.

In marked contrast, through disciplined observation and experiment mātauranga Māori, and other systems for systematically studying how the world, physical, natural, and social works, recognise our human participation in and relationships with other parts of the complex, dynamic systems that we so desperately need to understand.

Dr Raymond Nairn
67/1381 Dominion Rd Ext,
Mt Roskill, Auckland 1041

Dr Susan Healy
81/38 Golf Road
New Lynn, Auckland 0600
On behalf of Tamaki Treaty Workers

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