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Maori Council to establish a national taskforce focused on Science and Technology

The New Zealand Maori Council has announced the establishment of a National Taskforce for Science and Technology. Council Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki, has said that Maori are and will play an increasing role in the sectors from a social, economic, environmental and research-based perspective.

The Taskforce will be led by Dr Gary Hook, a leading academic who has often been a bridge between the Te Ao Maori world and non-Maori when it comes to scientific research. The Taskforce will be open to the Maori technology and science sectors, Maori business and industry, environmental sector leaders and researchers. Mr Tukaki has said the first hui will be held in Rotorua during the fast week of May.

“There are a number of issues on the table when it comes the fields of science and technology and its impact on our people and communities. On the one hand we want to develop policies and programs that support Maori business and industry, entrepreneurs and so on while on the other hand we need to look at the intellectual property rights on issues such as DNA and genome sequencing. There are issues dealing with water and the whenua, native birds and species and so on. We also have the emergence of concerns amongst some of our people when it comes the potential health impacts or otherwise on 5G as well as the emerging fields of health science more broadly.” Tukaki said

“The taskforce will not only seek to partner with Government and industry – at its core will be our people and communities. In addition to this we will also be focusing our time and attention on building our tamariki and rangatahi up when it comes to careers in the sectors but also encourage a deeper understanding of Matauranga Maori.” Tukaki said

“We want to make sure that a very Maori perspective is brought to bear on science and technology, growth, development and more. This is also a chance to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, capacity and capability building.” Tukaki said

“The National Taskforce terms of reference are being finalized, expressions of interest are being published for our people to mobilize and get involved. This will not be a too much hui not enough doey approach – from this will come policies that come with actions – in other words I expect work programs will be underway before the middle of the year – the first being a focus on the cyber-security of our Maori providers.” Tukaki said

Data and cyber security key to the protection of Maori assets and organisations

“The first thing we will be looking at is program design to support our small to medium sized Maori organisations when it comes to data and cyber security. The reality is many of our organisations don’t often have the capacity internally to keep themselves safe and very rarely does Government specifically fund this – and yet the amount of data our people hold is significant,” Tukaki said

“That is why we need get a program off the ground that gives them the knowledge and tools to be safe and secure in the online world.” Tukaki said

“And its this type of real on the ground action that we can support other than these sorts of things just being a hui and doey.” Tukaki said

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