Māori are good students when they are afforded the proper opportunity to learn and their right to unbiased access to optimal education should be protected vigorously.
This firm belief is among the reasons why Professor Garth Cooper, DPhil (Oxon) DSc (Oxon) FRCPA FMedSci, joined six other University of Auckland professors and signed a letter, “In defence of science”, published in July last year by the New Zealand Listener. The signatories questioned proposals to include mātauranga Māori in the school science curriculum and to give it equal standing with Western/ Pakeha subjects such as physics, biology and chemistry.
The professors do not oppose the teaching of mātauranga Māori in anthropology, Māori studies, cultural studies, or similar social studies. They do challenge its being taught in the science curriculum.
Cooper and Professor Robert Nola have resigned both as members and as fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand (as Point of Order reported on March 18) following the society’s decision not to formally proceed with a complaint against them as Fellows of the Society.
The complaint was laid after the publication of the letter In defence of science.
Robert Nola has explained why he resigned from the society.
Garth Cooper – who has Māori heritage and is described on the University of Auckland website as one of New Zealand’s foremost biological scientists and biotechnology entrepreneurs – explains here why he resigned …
Why did I resign from the Royal Society of New Zealand?
Garth J S Cooper DPhil (Oxon) DSc (Oxon) FRCPA FMedSci
My reasons for resigning from the Royal Society of New Zealand relate to its loss of understanding of its raison d’être; suppression of free speech; failure to properly support science and science education; untoward political focus of management and governance processes; and prolonged defamation of myself and Professors Michael Corballis (now sadly deceased) and Robert Nola, by certain of its authorities. Continue reading “Garth Cooper’s reasons for resigning from the Royal Society – they include his stance on science education for Māori” →
Two distinguished academics – Professors Garth Cooper and Robert Nola – have resigned both as members and as fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand (as Point of Order reported on March 18).
Cooper is a scientist; Nola is a philosopher who has studied and taught the philosophy of science.
Their resignations followed the society’s decision not to formally proceed with a complaint against them as fellows of the Society.
The complaint was laid after they and five other University of Auckland professors signed a letter – headed In defence of science – published in the 31 July 2021 issue of the NZ Listener.
The letter criticised proposals to include mātauranga Māori in the school science curriculum and to give it equal standing with Western/ Pakeha subjects such as physics, biology and chemistry.
The professors do not oppose the teaching of mātauranga Maori in anthropology, Māori studies, cultural studies, or any of the similar social studies. They do challenge its being taught in the science curriculum.
Furthermore, their letter was addressed at claims that science was a coloniser (“we find this quite wrong,” Nola told Point of Order).
Today, he explains why he resigned. Continue reading “Where was the Royal Society’s forum for debate during “science” dispute? Professor (and former fellow) explains his resignation” →
The politicians seem to have steered clear of the controversy over matauranga Maori and science in which the Royal Society of New Zealand has become embroiled.
This is perturbing. The meaning of “science” in this country – and how it is taught – will be influenced by the way the controversy is resolved. So, too, will the difference between truth and belief.
Soon the government will be evaluating feedback after launching the Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways Green Paper to prompt a consultation on the future of the country’s research, science and innovation science system.
Associate science minister Ayesha Verrall ominously said at the launch:
“Te Tiriti needs to be embedded right across the design and delivery of the system, and more opportunities need to exist for mātauranga Māori.”
Does she mean opportunities for a belief system? An alternative view of the world? Or what?
She has also declared:
We need to match the benefits from our research and science, with a modern, future-focused research system that is connected, adaptable and resilient, that embeds Te Tiriti across the design and delivery attributes of the system and supports opportunities for mātauranga Māori.
Opposition politicians (perhaps intent on avoiding vilification from commentators who seem to support the merging of science with mataranga Maori) have not challenged the direction in which science policy is being taken.
But we note mention of these matters and the controversy they have generated in a newsletter from the ACT Party which says: Continue reading “Royal Society’s handling of complaints against two fellows could shape the future of NZ science – and of Kiwi reality” →
We are heartened, at Point of Order, to find some of our scribblings have been drawn to the attention of Jerry A. Coyne, Ph.D and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago.
On his website, Why Evolution is True, he has posted an article headed More news from New Zealand about the big science vs. indigenous “knowledge” ruckus. In this, he has referenced our recent report that Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, has set aside $1.6 million to hook kids on “science”, but by using “traditional knowledge”.
We have been rewarded, too, by keeping an eye on what Coyne is saying about science and matauranga Maori and its place in our education system on his website.
For good measure, we have been given examples of the wit and wisdom exercised by Professors Joanna Kidman (University of Wellington) and Siouxsie Wiles (University of Auckland) when they rebut ideas expressed by people who disagree with them. Age and gender seem to be over-riding considerations – in tweets, at least – which seriously corrode the validity of a contradictory argument.
On December 14, Coyne says he suddenly had been inundated with emails from disaffected Kiwis who take issue with the New Zealand government’s and academia’s push to teach mātauranga Māori , or Māori “ways of knowing”, as coequal with real science in high-school and university science classes.
Of course. We are injecting notions of Treaty partnership into our science curriculum.
And if it’s good enough to debase our democracy with these partnerships, why should science be exempt? Continue reading “Bring on the Wiles v Dawkins debate and prospects of our being demystified (but he might be disqualified as a dinosaur)” →
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins a few years ago reacted to Donald Trump’s shock election victory in the United States by urging fellow scientists to move to New Zealand.
He called on this country to offer British and American academics citizenship following the “catastrophes” both countries had suffered at the hands of “uneducated, anti-intellectual” voters.
He might have changed his mind since then, although the mainstream media here either haven’t noticed or don’t think it’s a matter of public interest.
Dawkins is troubled by what is happening to some of our scientists and is supporting colleagues around the world who contend that myths do not belong in science classes. He has posted on Twitter the letter he emailed to the chief executive of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
He wrote to Roger Ridley, unaware that Paul Atkins (email@example.com) has succeeded Ridley as CEO.
Dawkins’ letter was prompted by another eminent scientist, Jerry Coyne, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at The University of Chicago.
Let’s hear first from Coyne, who has a has posted an article headed “Ways of knowing”: New Zealand pushes to have “indigenous knowledge” (mythology) taught on parity with modern science in science class”
Coyne has been alerted to the furore which we mentioned here yesterday and which was critically aired in The Spectator in a column by associate editor Toby Young headed Why punish a scientist for defending science? Continue reading “Richard Dawkins (a foe of creationism) pitches into the NZ furore over letter in defence of science by seven professors” →
Soon after the latest National Party line-up was announced this afternoon, Newshub was reporting who had finished up with higher rankings than before and who had slipped.
Chris Luxon’s election as leader last week obviously led to his being catapulted from number 29 to number one. Nicola Willis, his deputy, jumped from 16 to two, while Simon Bridges was up from seven to three, two places below where he was this time two years ago.
And former leader Judith Collins?
With Luxon ascending to the leadership, Collins has taken a big tumble. She has fallen from one to 19, so just inside Luxon’s shadow Cabinet.
But Point of Order was less interested in who has been placed where in the party pecking order than in who will be handling which shadow portfolios.
In the case of Judith Collins, she has been given a portfolio – research, science , innovation and technology – that should present a worthy challenge to someone who relishes being known as “Crusher”.
It also happens to be a more politically fraught domain than perhaps she imagines because it will require her to decide if she should publicly declare she is a champion of science and of scientists. Continue reading “Here’s a worthy challenge for Judith Collins – asking why our Royal Society is investigating two defenders of science” →
Let’s meet Professor Garth Cooper, described on the University of Auckland website as one of New Zealand’s foremost biological scientists and biotechnology entrepreneurs.
He is professor of Biochemistry and Clinical Biochemistry at the School of Biological Sciences and the Department of Medicine at the University of Auckland, where he also leads the Proteomics and Biomedicine Research Group. He is a Principal Investigator in the Maurice Wilkins Centre of Research Excellence for Molecular Biodiscovery, a member of the Endocrine Society (USA). He was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (London) in 2013
And – for now – he is a member of the Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
But the society has subjected him and another prominent academic, Robert Nola, to disciplinary action which looks suspiciously like a witch hunt.
Nola is emeritus professor of the philosophy of science with his own impressive CV.
The society has called off its investigation into a third academic, Michael Corballis, who died earlier this month.
The Emeritus Professor at the Department of Psychology at the university of Auckland, Corballis was awarded the Shorland Medal by the New Zealand Association of Scientists in 1999, the 2002 Queen’s Birthday and Golden Jubilee Honours, and was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to psychological science. In 2016, he received the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Rutherford Medal, its most prestigious award, for his work on brain asymmetries, handedness, mental imagery, language, and mental time travel. Continue reading “Royal Society of NZ is split by disciplinary action taken against prominent professors who signed letter in defence of science” →
Latest from the Beehive
The Government is investing $82.345 million over the next three years in 120 projects focused ( for example) on infectious diseases, wellbeing, climate change, natural disasters, and space. We can’t wait for the research results, enabling us to assess how well this money has been spent.
The announcement of Marsden Fund grants was made by Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods, who said:
“This funding will help address real world problems that people in Aotearoa are facing right now, as well as drive New Zealand’s ambitions in pioneering research.”
A mind-boggling list of projects – or rather, a list of projects with mind-boggling titles – can be checked out on the Royal Society of New Zealand website www.royalsociety.org.nz.
The average Kiwi – we suspect – may wonder about the real-world problems being tackled and the pioneering research that is being undertaken with the aid of government funding.
For example: Continue reading “How $82m of Marsden Fund dosh is being spent – on spatters, structure theory, sea ice, sex-changing fish and black holes” →
As I observed in an article posted on the AgScience blog earlier today, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand’s most celebrated scientist and the country’s first Nobel laureate, was noted by RNZ, and by some newspapers and universities.
On RNZ’s Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, the programme host talked about Lord Rutherford with Professor David Hutchison, the director of the Dodd Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies.
Stuff featured an article by Nelson reporter Tim Newman under the headline Ernest Rutherford: From humble beginnings to New Zealand’s greatest scientist
This referenced an obituary in the New York Times on October 20, 1937, which described Lord Rutherford as one of the few men to reach “immortality and Olympian rank” during his own lifetime. Continue reading “The importance of being Ernest – our royal society is using him to inspire youngsters to redesign our $100 bank note” →
Scimex drew our attention around two weeks ago to news that Māori researchers were calling for a Tiriti-led science-policy approach.
A multi-disciplinary group of Māori researchers – most of them from the humanities – had published a report which recommended the appointments of Māori Chief Science Advisors and the development of Treaty-based guidelines for science and innovation funding.
In other words, scientists should have their funding chopped off if they don’t subscribe to the authors’ ideas about how the Treaty should play a role in this country’s science and innovation systems.
They wrote that the way scientists and policymakers work with each other left little room for Māori participation or leadership, although it seems they have been doing nicely, thank you, with their own careers.
But they were championing a different way of working and said the Treaty of Waitangi offers a “powerful framework” for connecting communities of knowledge that are mutually beneficial.
Other recommendations over the medium term include establishing an independent Mātauranga Māori entity, and developing regionally based Te Ao Māori policy hubs. Continue reading “Here’s a letter to the editor you might have missed on science and how it should be shaped by the Treaty and spirituality” →