February 01, 2021
Malcolm’s mission to uncover names in ngahere
A Māori biosecurity manager is calling for the rediscovery and retention of traditional Māori names for plants and animals.
Tame Malcolm from Te Tira Whakamātaki says many scientists are starting to incorporate matauranga Māori into their research, and the names are key to that.
The Māori names contain a lot of history and culture, including warnings about whether a plant is edible or poisonous, and about cycles of growth.
"Our tūpuna had different names for the same tree in the different stages of its life. They had different names for birds at different stages of their life or different times of the year. No longer do I walk around saying 'that is just a tui' or 'that is just a tōtara.' I know there's a lot more names that go with it so my journey at the moment is trying to find all those names," Mr Malcolm says.
He is now combining his mahi as a possum trapper with research towards a PhD, uncovering the old names from waiata, the names of places and other traditional sources.
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