Tagata Pasifika The Pacific voice on New Zealand television since 1987

Mātauranga platform making waves online

By John Pulu

Leading technology entrepreneur and former TV presenter Sir Ian Taylor (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāpuhi) is on a special mission – to learn from the past to help navigate the future.

And he’s doing this through a new online platform he created called  Mātauranga, which means kinship with nature. The web page depicts the story of the Polynesian voyagers who crossed the Pacific Ocean hundreds of years ago to eventually land on Aotearoa.

“We think that when our young people see the science, technology, engineering and math that was involved in crossing, and the migration across Te Moana Nui a Kiwa – the largest expanse of open water on the planet, it will ignite in them this belief that innovation is in their DNA,” he said.

Well known for the work his company Animation Research Limited has done for sports coverage around the world, including the current America’s Cup event, he’s turned his expertise to tell the story of Polynesian voyaging.

Now aged 70, Sir Ian’s always been fascinated with the story of migration to Aotearoa from the Pacific on the great double hulled canoes hundreds of years ago, where our ancestors used the stars, the moon, the sun and other way-finding methods to reach these shores.

L-R: Saveatama Eroni Clarke, Sir Ian Taylor and Sir La'auli Michael Jones. Photo: Tagata Pasifika
L-R: Saveatama Eroni Clarke, Sir Ian Taylor and Sir La’auli Michael Jones. Photo: Tagata Pasifika

“This incredible story of basically STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) was the voyaging across the Pacific Ocean, and I’ve set around me a team that can tell these stories, and I believe that all we have to do is tell the story. If we tell these stories to our tamariki, they will see that there is a future in this.”

It’s taken two years to get the project afloat, and the million-dollar online resource was funded by Sir Ian and IT hall-of-famer Dennis Chapman.

First to try out the website were students at the Pacific Advance Secondary School (PASS) in Ōtāhuhu.

Junior student Christian Faimalo says, “It blows me away to know that my ancestors were one of the greatest navigators in the whole world, and without using technology. They used the stars and that, and the Pacific Ocean is one of the biggest oceans that we know.”

PASS students. Photo: Tagata Pasifika
PASS students. Photo: Tagata Pasifika

So far the students are on board with the new online tool, and so are the teachers.

“If you look at the story of our tupuna and our tua’a, and that’s where we come from, that part of our DNA holds that greatness, and now we are equipped to give children access to the story. What’s not to love?” says Ala’imalo Falefatu Enari.

PASS Board chair La’auli Sir Michael Jones says he’s excited about what this will do for the students.

“Anything that can re-enforce the importance of where we have come from, our ancestors, our tupuna, all of that creates another level of strength, innovation, and it makes them even more aware of that fact that you know for whatever reason they are created uniquely.”

Sir Ian Taylor showing PASS students the Matauranga platform. Photo: Tagata Pasifika
Sir Ian Taylor showing PASS students the Mātauranga platform. Photo: Tagata Pasifika

Waka sailor Noenoe Barclay-Kerr (Tainui) is part of the journey already. She is the guide on the Mātauranga site. She hopes this new tool will encourage others to join her on the water too.

“There’s only a small minority within the waka society, and the more people we have on board, the more rangatahi we can inspire to go out and learn this Mātauranga. It will just create a bigger wave of people that carry this kaupapa with us.”

Sir Ian is hopeful this gift will just be the beginning of more work to come as we pay homage to our navigating ancestors.

“This is a living gift, and we are starting to find a number of people who are stepping up saying ‘we want to contribute to this gift’, and I don’t mean just in money; we’ve got stories to tell,” he says.

The stories of the past now defining the future.

 

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