Mātauranga Māori

Whanake te Kura i Tawhiti Nui


Dr Acushla Dee Sciascia

Programme Co-Leader

Massey University


Dr Wendy Saunders

Programme Co-Leader

GNS Science



To increase the visibility, understanding and transformational potential of Mātauranga Māori in natural hazard research and resilience.


The Whanake te Kura i Tawhiti Nui programme of research aims to generate the fundamental Mātauranga Māori and applied Māori hazard, risk and resilience knowledge for Aotearoa New Zealand.

We will develop innovative culturally underpinned research methods and models that will be applied to investigating multiple natural hazards, and their complex impacts on our society.

We will employ rohe-centric case studies to ensure Mātauranga Māori can interface, inform and transform our resilience within communities through multi-scale modelling, conceptual frameworks, te reo Māori, and mātauranga Māori/hapū/iwi across a range of natural hazards.

More specifically, the Mātauranga Māori programmes aims to:

  • Reframe scientific approaches to natural hazard research by moving beyond traditional western methodological approaches and assumptions;
  • Develop Māori knowledges and planning that are interfacing, informing and improving resilience across a range of natural hazards; and
  • Innovate communication and engagement activities to enable Māori communities to make informed resilient decisions.

Long term, we see the above outcomes contributing towards a future Māori Academy of Natural Hazards and Environmental Systems Research established (with a Professor of Mātauranga Māori-Natural Hazards Resilience). We believe that this research programme will be the foundational blocks for building such an Academy.




Whakaoranga Te Whenua:

How can we increase iwi, hapū and whānau awareness to natural hazards including volcanic eruptions, tsunami, earthquakes, landslides, wildfires, coastal erosion and extreme weather events?


Whakaoranga Tūrangawaewae:

How can we increase Māori decision-making with respect to built infrastructure, technologies, lifelines, warnings, all-hazard risk modelling, designs, codes, communication, and environmental management plans?


Whakaoranga Iwi Whānui:

How can we build the resilience of iwi, hapū, whānau with respect to urban/rural issues, social issues, health, economics, communities, and businesses?

Student profile: Lucy Kaiser


Lucy Kaiser (Ngai Tahu) is studying towards a PhD through Massey’s Joint Centre for Disaster Research, supported by a scholarship from Whanake te Kura i Tawhiti Nui.

Lucy’s thesis explores tangata whenua views and responses to climate change, focusing on her rohe of Murihiku (Southland). 



Q&A with Dr Acushla Dee Sciascia


Dr Acushla Dee Sciascia (Massey University), co-leader of our Mātauranga Māori programme, shares how she got into research, about her PhD findings, and what western natural hazards research can gain from incorporating mātauranga Māori. 

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