Kaupapa Māori and Matauranga Māori

The terms kaupapa Maori and matauranga Maori are often thought of as synonymous. Royal, however, makes clear that, while being related, they do not lie solely in the same realm.

Royal distinguishes kaupapa Maori as meaning either the values and plans of action decided by Maori; or the values and plans suggested by traditional knowledge – matauranga Maori (Royal 31). Therefore, kaupapa Maori is used both in approaching matauranga Maori as well as being informed by it.

Matauranga Maori, as understood in a modern context, refers to “a body or a continuum of knowledge with Polynesian origins” (Royal 33). In being termed matauranga Maori it is not so much alluding to a body of knowledge created and maintained by Maori people, rather it refers to a body of knowledge stemming from a Maori world view, particularly regarding personal and collective identity (Royal 35).

Robyn Kahukiwa. War, 2013, alkyd oil on canvas, private collection, Auckland.

Understanding kaupapa Maori and matauranga Maori are significant when considering approach to Maori identity, or identity as understood from a Maori world view. The works of Robyn Kahukiwa focus on the experience of Maori subjected to colonization and urbanization which Royal informs as what inspires and focuses kaupapa Maori theory (Royal 31). Kahukiwa states that it was this realization that drove her to “paint the reality” of Maori experience (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki), such as is evident in her painting War reflecting the injustices dealt to Maori by the crown.


Works Cited:

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. “Five Māori Painters: Robyn Kahukiwa”. Youtube, 24 Feb 2014, youtube.com/watch?v=aOdSpSi-YBs&t=231s

Royal, Te Ahukaramu Charles. “Politics and knowledge: Kaupapa Maori and maātauranga Maori”. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies. Vol. 47, No. 2, 2012, pp. 30-37.


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