Melanie Mark-Shadbolt and Marcus Rongowhitiao-Shadbolt speak at
SERA 2021 Conference – Darwin, Australia (May 2021)
In May, TTW was invited to present at this year’s SERA (Society of Ecological Restoration Australasia) conference in Darwin Australia. This conference is one of the first in-person conferences to take place in Australia after COVID, and our first opportunity to travel across and reconnect with our Aboriginal whānau.
Research assistant, Marcus-Rongowhitiao Shadbolt presented his paper “Empowering the Indigenous voice in a graphical representation of Aotearoa’s bio-cultural heritage”. This project focuses on working with Kaumātua to preserve their local flora and fauna knowledge. This fit into the “Art in Restoration” session at SERA, which had representation from other researchers whose projects looked at how art, science and restoration are intertwined, and have been used together to protect and restore our environments.
Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, TTW CEO and co-founder, also presented a keynote on the third day titled “How Ngā Rākau Taketake, a research response to kauri dieback and myrtle rust, is anchored in Te Tiriti and mātauranga Māori”. Melanie spoke to participants about the experience of sharing decision making power with Māori in a research programme, and responsibilities associated with ensuring engagement at all levels with indigenous communities. Melanie encouraged non-indigenous participants to actively take measures to assist and engage indigenous colleagues, rather than simply consult with or extract from them.
Melanie asked participants to remember that our systems and practices, including science and policy, are fundamentally racist and come from racist and exclusive origins. This means by their very nature they hurt indigenous people and indigenous communities. She added that we as researchers and conservationists have a responsibility to minimize damage to indigenous people and communities from our work. The heart of Melanie’s presentation focused on how important indigenous knowledge and practice is to our world, given the crisis’ we face in climate change and resulting species loss. Melanie also noted that it would be foolish to ignore knowledge systems which are based on experiences of living in and engaging with local environments for years, and in Australia’s case 10,000 plus years.
This knowledge of living at place and with nature is going to be vital if we want to reverse the decline, as Ngā Rākau Taketake does. Mels presentation went straight to the core of many issues faced by indigenous people, racism, exploitation, exclusion, under resourcing etc., but also provided advice for non-indigenous researchers on how to support and work in partnership with their indigenous colleagues.
SERA 2021 was an engaging event to be a part of and TTW were honoured to have been invited to participate. As always we enjoy engaging with our Australian and Aboriginal colleagues. We also acknowledge the warm welcome into Larrakia country and the elders whom we engaged with while there, as well as elders past, present, and emerging. The heart of Melanie’s presentation focused on how important indigenous knowledge and practice is to our world, given the crises we face in climate change and species extinction.
TTW’s CEO and co-founder, Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, presenting via zoom to the SERA 2021 conference, challenging perceptions with her presentation entitled “How Ngā Rākau Taketake, a research response to kauri dieback and myrtle rust, is anchored in Te Tiriti and mātauranga Māori”.
TTW Research Assistant Marcus Rongowhitiao-Shadbolt presenting his paper entitled “Empowering the Indigenous voice in a graphical representation of Aotearoa’s bio-cultural heritage” at SERA 2021.