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Indigenous knowledge shared at Claudelands

Te Kotahi Research Institute, a research arm of the University of Waikato, hosted the He Manawa Whenua Indigenous Research Conference 2013 at Claudelands on 1-3 July.

The conference aimed to unlock new innovation from indigenous knowledge, resources and people.

Claudelands Conference and Exhibition Centre proved a highly appropriate venue for the conference, since the venue’s design was significantly shaped by its significance to local iwi Ngati Wairere.

The Claudelands area was originally known as Te Papanui (“a bird snarer’s seat”) and a renowned place for hunting native birds. The bright panels on Claudelands’ exterior refer to the vibrant colours of the birds – kokako, kaka, tieke and hihi, while the angular poles reflect the movement of the tao, or hunting spears.

The conference explored the themes of innovation, wellbeing and inspiration, hosting keynote speakers from the Dakota Nation, the Sto:lo Nation of British Columbia, the Northern Paiute people of Nevada and a representative of the Palawa Tasmanian Aborigines. Local scholars included researchers from the University of Waikato, Te Wananga O Rakawa and Te Kotahi Research Institute.

Held over three days, the conference proved to be rich in content, with keynote speakers beginning and ending each day.  Mornings featured five panels of three presenters, while ten round-table presentations with three presenters at each provided a wealth of ideas and research findings during the afternoon.

The conference promoted ideas that aim to accelerate development and lead to social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being. Presenters from across Maoridom were complemented by indigenous people from across the Pacific and the Americas.

The conference also included an exhibition of products which included taonga, such as pounamu (greenstone), ta moko, traditional and contemporary weaving and carving, together with clothing and jewellery.

Dr Leonie Pihama, chair of the organising committee for 'He Manawa Whenua' commented, "We really needed a flexible venue to host multiple conference sessions simultaneously.

“Claudelands proved to be the perfect venue as we were able to organise the space in ways that enabled diverse types of presentations and aligned to our vision for a conference that engaged all participants," Pihama said.

Hamilton City’s Event Facilities Director of Business Development, Murray Jeffrey said it was a pleasure to host such an important international conference at Claudelands.

“Claudelands is an entirely appropriate venue for a conference on innovation,” said Jeffrey.

“The Claudelands’ architects and design teams consulted closely with local iwi to ensure the building reflected the significance of the local area. They came up with a unique aesthetic that combines environmental sustainability with world-class technological capabilities.

“It was great to see the organisers of He Manawa Whenua take advantage of Claudelands’ technology, flexibility and cultural values to deliver such a vibrant conference,” he said.