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Weaving patterns with interdisciplinary knowledge Event as iCalendar

05 July 2019

2 - 3pm

Venue: Mac 1 Biology Building

Location: 5 Symonds St

Host: SBS

Contact info: Dr Anne Gaskett

Contact email:

Dr Priscilla (Cilla) Wehi
Dr Priscilla (Cilla) Wehi

Speaker: Dr Priscilla (Cilla) Wehi, Manaaki Whenua (Landcare Research)

Priscilla (Cilla) Wehi will discuss two projects from her research at the interface of ecology and society. In the first, Dr Wehi and colleagues examine human behaviour through an analysis of Māori oral tradition, and ecological information within it. Human settlement into new regions like Aotearoa / New Zealand is typically accompanied by waves of animal extinctions, but there is limited understanding of how human communities perceive and respond to such ecological crises. Because extinctions in New Zealand began just 700 years ago, whakataukī (Māori ancestral sayings) offer a source of cultural information that contains embedded ecological knowledge. The data provide evidence that extinction of keystone fauna like moa was important for shaping ecological thought in Māori society.

A second project analyses bones from archaeological digs, kahukurī (dogskin cloaks) from museums, together with historical records, to investigate Māori relationships with kurī (dogs). Kurī were brought on the voyaging canoes to Aotearoa and were important for food and clothing before European arrival. However, these dogs disappeared in the 19th century. Dr Wehi uses the data to think about the reasons for this disappearance, and what it tells us about the changing nature of society. Research that engages with communities, museums and other agencies can be slow and painstaking, and both ethical and methodological challenges were faced. However, this engagement can add to rewarding collaborative partnerships of discovery about who we are, and our relationships with the natural world.

For more information please contact  Dr Anna Gaskett (

Please note the start time of 2pm on Friday.