ITD conférence presentation, Thursday 14th September 2017, Parallel Session 8, 14:00-15:30


This digital video was created from a laptop audio recording of a Powerpoint presentation given at the International Transdisciplinary Conference, Leuphana University, Luneburg, Germany. A copy of the conference programme is available along with video recordings of the plenary sessions.

This presentation draws on 10 years of teaching in Whare Wānanga (transl. Māori educational institutions) and kaitiaki activities (transl. caring, guardianship) with whānau (transl. extended Māori families) and hapū (transl. Māori communities). I started this journey with a desire to better understand the means of knowledge development that made it possible for my tūpuna (tr. ancestors) to maintain their own survival/wellbeing and that of the natural world for approximately 900–1000 years. In answer to this question, I seek to describe and characterise an ‘indigenous (Māori) transdisciplinarity’ that is compared and contrasted with the paper ‘Transdisciplinarity, past, present and future’ presented by Basarab Nicolescu at the 2nd World Congress on Transdiscplinarity in Brazil (2005).

This investigation indicates that the knowledge development activities of my tūpuna (transl. ancestors), at the time of European settlement of Aotearoa (transl. New Zealand), in the years following 1840, was at least 150 years ahead of comparative methodological developments in Western and transdisciplinary science. Given their capacity for achieving ecological–human survival and wellbeing outcomes over such a long period of time (ca. 900–1000 years), this study indicates that the survival of Māori and other indigenous cultures; their worldviews, languages and systems of knowledge development, is inextricably linked with achieving the goal of global, ecological sustainability. Given this understanding, it may well be time to make a place for ‘indigenous transdisciplinarity’ in the Western Academy.


Key readings

Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London, England: Penguin Books.

Max-Neef, M. A. (2005) Foundations of transdisciplinarity. Ecological Economics, 53 (1), 5-16.

McGregor, S. L. T. (2015) The Nicolescuian and Zurich Approaches to Transdisciplinarity. Integral Leadership Review (April-June), 16.

Nicolescu, B. (2005) Transdisciplinarity, Past, Present and Future. Paper Presented at the 2nd World Congress on Transdisciplinarity in Brazil, September 4th – 16th, 2005.

Smith, L. T. (2012). Decolonising methodologies: research and indigenous peoples (2nd ed.). Dunedin, N.Z.: Otago University Press.


Conditions of use
This video recording has been made available to support non-commercial, transdisciplinary educational activities. Elements of this presentation are covered under differing copyright and indigenous (Māori) knowledge protection including the full expression of kaitiakitanga and rangatiratanga. These rights and responsibilities include the use of visual images from the public domain. For this reason, no part of this digital publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the various copyright owners, kaitiaki and rangatira. If you have questions concerning an intended use of this video presentation beyond viewing it online, in the first instance please contact

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