Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga’s inaugural Traditional Knowledge Conference was held in June 2004. The theme of this international conference was traditional knowledge and research ethics. The authors of the papers come from Australia (Torres Straits Islands), the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Tonga, and from many iwi and organisations of Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Research has long played a critical role in working with indigenous communities, their ways of knowing, languages, values and practices. This role has been contentious for the communities being researched. While other marginalised communities, for example, women, have developed academic critiques of research that have radically transformed research practices, indigenous communities continue to struggle to have their critical voices “heard” and “respected” by academic and research communities and organisations.
The idea of “ethical practices” is one of the meeting grounds for institutions, researchers and communities and the aim of the conference was to create such a meeting ground. The conference identified a range of matters that have particular relevance for Māori and indigenous communities in the twenty first century, including issues related to indigenous systems of knowledge, contemporary forms of art and representation, biotechnology, international agreements, and conservation and protection.