November 14, 2012
Whakatauki have conservation messages
Researchers believe ancient whakatauki can help inform modern environmental practice.
Waikato University linguist Hemi Whaanga and ecologist Dr Priscilla Wehi from Otago University have been given a $345,000 Marsden Fast-Start grants to see how the sayings of the elders relate to conservation and biodiversity.
Dr Whaanga says they have been looking at whakatauki for several years to uncover their messages, including relationships Māori had with the environment.
"We wanted to explore the kind of knowledge and understanding of conservation that we had and also the biodiversity embedded in whakatauki and see whether these whakatauki can make a contribution to issues around language and cultural sustainability, biodiversity and conservation," he says.
Dr Whaanga says some whakatauki can be traced back to the extinction of the moa in the mid 15th century.