The connections between cultural knowledge and science

Professor Rangi Matamua (Aotearoa) and Dr Kalei Nu'uhiwa (Hawai'i)
Thursday, November 19, 2020

In the past 30 years indigenous astronomy has undergone a resurgence and this is especially evident in both Hawai’i and Aotearoa. Since the 1980s, the Makahiki celebration period, which is associated with the observation of Makali’i (Pleiades), has played a major role in the Hawaiian cultural revitalisation movement. In the same manner Matariki (Pleiades) and the Māori new year celebration has become a significant event in Aotearoa with plans to establish a nation-wide public holiday to honour the winter appearance of this star cluster.
Both Makali’i and Matariki are part of a much larger bodies of knowledge that were central in the lives of our ancestors, informing their day-to-day activities and influencing their divisions of time, seasons, celebrations, cosmology, planting, harvesting, fishing, wayfinding and even their religious activities. Today an increasing number of people are becoming interested in traditional astronomy, exploring ancient narratives and practices connected to the astronomical bodies. The application of lunar calendar systems, the use of stars as markers of time and event and astronomically connected ceremony and celebrations are being reintroduced into modern indigenous society as a means to maintain language and culture.
In this keynote address, Dr Kalei Nu’uhiwa and Professor Rangi Matamua will discuss how traditional astronomical practices in both Hawai’i and Aotearoa are playing an increasingly important role in maintaining culture. Specifically, this presentation will focus on astronomical ceremony and its importance now and into the future.

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