Saana Murray, Ethnobotany Hui, Christchurch (1988)

Saana Murray (1925 – 2011), of the Te Hapua Traditional Arts and Crafts Trust, talks at the 1988 “Nga Mahi Maori o te Wao Nui a Tane Commonwealth Science Council Hui on Ethnobotany, Rehua Marae, Christchurch, about issues affecting the protection of traditional knowledge, and the political dynamics that have affected our peoples’ ability to control our traditional lands and resources.

The five-day, landmark, International Workshop on the Traditional Uses of Plants brought Saana, Del Wihongi (of the Pu Hao Rangi Trust) and John Hippolite all together for the first time along with two hundred other Maori, Pacifica and Commonwealth kaumatua and leaders.  Saana, Del and John were later to become three of the six WAI 262 Flora and Fauna/ Mātauranga Māori claimants.

The hui also revealed publicly the fate of ancient kumara, especially DSIR’s sale of the large collection of kumara varieties assembled by Dr Douglas Yen, to a research institution in Tsukuba, Japan. Both Saana and Del voiced their concerns at the risks to traditional knowledge and at the commercial exploitation of native plants. The hui recommended:

– the principle that science must flourish for the benefit of all people, not for the profit of a few;
– the conservation of species of importance to Maori and other indigenous people, and the retention and protection of traditional knowledge regarding the utilization of these species; and
– the need for consultation with Maori prior to any further commercial exploitation of native plant species.

(Re-broadcasted by Radio NZ 25 September 2011: The video’s in two parts):