WAYS OF SEEING: WHAKAPAPA

Mere Roberts

Abstract


The ideas advanced in this paper accept a priori the existence and validity of alternative world views which each seek to make sense of and understand the world. More specifically it advances the theory that matauranga and wananga1 comprise a body of knowledge situated within a cognitive genealogical framework called whakapapa; and that this provides the theoretical or epistemological basis for a Maori ‘way of knowing’ about the world. As will be described, this framework embraces multiple ontologies concerning how things came to be, each of which is grounded in both knowledge of natural science (primarily biological) as well as spiritual knowledge. Examples drawn from whakapapa of selected plants and animals not only reveal the extent and nature of the knowledge embedded in mātauranga, but also highlight the various functions whakapapa appear to have served in an oral society. These roles, and the potential of whakapapa to continue to contribute to the growth of knowledge are also discussed in the light of perspectives from other scholars of matauranga. .

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol10iss1id236