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Connecting Maori genomic scientists and communities

Empowering Māori communities to make informed decisions about important genomics issues such as hauora (health) in humans, or kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of taonga species is critically important. 

Ruatau - toitoi

Māori scientists (kaipūtaiao Māori) can help this through understanding community perspectives, priorities, and concerns. However, Māori are under-represented in academia and in genomics research. Furthermore, many Māori genomics researchers grew up Te Ao Pākehā and feel that they lack a sufficiently strong grounding in Te Ao Māori.

Developing cultural competency in these Māori genomic scientists in collaboration with Māori communities will therefore increase the understanding of genomics and associated risks and benefits in Māori communities, and it will enable the kaipūtaiao Māori to increase their understanding of mātauranga Māori/tikanga and reconnect with their own whānau/hapū. 

The Ruatau project will achieve this by bringing Māori communities and kaipūtaiao together in wānanga (workshops) focused on genomics. The knowledge of both groups will be extended in a two-way tuakana-teina relationship through the examination of problems and questions about genomics that are relevant to Māori communities.

The initial focus will be delivering a genomics wānanga to assist decision-making for a community or associated Māori initiative with a specific project or a question. A capacity building workshop for communities that have a more general interest in genomics will then be developed, working with a community to understand the science and associated cultural issues, and to assist them in building towards their own projects. Ultimately, cultural upskilling and genomics wānanga materials will be made available for use by other researchers/communities.


  • Cultural upskilling of kaipūtaiao who grew up Te Ao Pākehā 
  • Upskilling of local Māori communities in genomics research, facilitating whānau-led projects
  • The development of cultural upskilling and genomics wānanga resources. 


  • Alana Alexander, Ngāpuhi [Te Hikutu], Pākehā (University of Otago) 
  • Catherine Collins, Kāi Tahu, Pākehā (University of Otago) 
  • Simon Hills, Ngāti Porou, Pākehā (Massey University)
  • Karaitiana Taiuru, Ngāi Tahu [Koukourarata, Puketeraki, Rāpaki, Taumutu, Tūāhuriri, Waewae, Waihao, Waihopai, Wairewa]; Ngāti Rārua; Ngāti Kahungunu [Ngāti Pāhauwera]; Ngāti Hikairo [Ngāti Taiuru]; Tūwharetoa [Tamakopiri]; Ngāti Hauiti [Ngāti Haukaha]; Ngāti Whitikaupeka, (Independent STEAM and Property Rights Māori Cultural Adviser)
  • Kimiora Hēnare, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa (University of Auckland)
  • Lisa Warbrick, Ngati Awa, Ngati Rangitihi, Te Ati Haunui a Pāpārangi, (Massey/Smith Warbrick and Associates)
  • Phil Wilcox, Ngāti Rakaipaaka, Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa, (University of Otago)