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Safeguarding at-risk mātauranga Māori from the ongoing threat of COVID-19

Ministers’ release: 15 December 2020

Minister Sepuloni media release.

A Te Reo Māori version of the media release is also available.

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Carmel Sepuloni, has announced 18 initiatives to support iwi, hapū, whānau and Māori communities to safeguard at-risk mātauranga Māori, and protect indigenous knowledge from the ongoing threat of COVID-19.

These initiatives are being funded through the $20 million Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kōtuku programme announced in Budget 2020.  Key initiatives include direct funding for national cultural organisations to deliver wānanga and training programmes in partnership with communities, as well as contestable funding for specific projects.

“COVID-19 brought into sharp focus significant existing risks to mātauranga Māori, which in many cases is held by a small number of knowledge holders and arts practitioners – often kaumātua – who are particularly vulnerable to the global pandemic,” Carmel Sepuloni says.

“It’s imperative that we support iwi, hapū and whānau to protect and revitalise this irreplaceable mātauranga, which is central to their cultural identity and wellbeing. Mātauranga Māori is of vital importance to Aotearoa and its people.”

The majority of the initiatives will begin in early 2021 and will be delivered over two years. Among the initiatives are:

  • Contestable funding, including a new $5.7 million Mātauranga Māori Marae Ora Fund. This will support projects that protect and revitalise mātauranga and taonga on marae around the country. 
  • Wānanga initiatives which support iwi, hapū and whānau and Māori communities to protect and share mātauranga around:
    • ngā toi Māori (Māori arts), kapa haka, hanga whare (built heritage), wāhi tapu and wāhi tupuna
    • preservation and conservation of taonga and mātauranga in all their forms, from audio-visual material to textiles.
  • Initiatives led by tohunga and pūkenga to promote the revitalisation of endangered art forms like taonga pūoro and tārai waka.

A full list of the Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kōtuku initiatives is available here.

“The 18 initiatives announced today are being coordinated by eight government and cultural organisations with specialist knowledge around mātauranga and taonga Māori, and their preservation and conservation,” says Carmel Sepuloni.

“These organisations will work in partnership with tohunga and arts practitioners and whānau, hapū and iwi to deliver these initiatives for communities across the motu.”

The eight organisations involved in the Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kōtuku programme are Creative New Zealand Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, Te Matatini, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Te Puni Kōkiri and Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs.

Updated on 15th December 2020