7 August, 2019
DiscoveryCamp gives Māori and Pacific high school students the chance to experience science at a tertiary level. Alice Webb-Liddall finds out why it’s important to get these young people interested.
Māori and Pacific people have been experts in science for thousands of years. They navigated the earth using astronomy, grown food with biology and created medicines with botany. “This is and always has been science,” says Dr Ocean Mercier (Ngāti Porou). The Victoria University of Wellington lecturer has a PhD in condensed matter physics, and studies how mātauranga Māori and science connect.
“It’s an old fable that Māori and Pacific people aren’t suited to do science – that we’re more capable of arts or dance – but what people don’t seem to understand is that we have been scientists forever.”
But the representation of Māori and Pacific people in science is far below where it should be. While nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s population identify as Māori or Pasifika, a science review from 2010 found Māori and Pacific Islanders only make up around 2% of the scientific workforce...