Te Roro: Mātauranga 


Te Roro: A Mātauranga Māori study is a research project that approaches brain health in a holistic way, placing emphasis on mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge), and being led by Māori for the benefit of Māori. It will draw on traditional sources such as whakairo (carvings), karakia (prayers and incantations), mōteatea (chanted song-poetry), and other sources to understand how Māori view brain health and well-being. 

Most research in New Zealand has contributed to western frameworks and treatments for brain conditions such as dementia, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and neurodiversity. In contrast, Māori have a holistic view of health and Te Roro seeks to address this, utilising kaupapa Māori methods to explore brain health and well-being. The research team includes mātauranga Māori experts who are embedded and trusted in the communities they serve. 

Despite there being considerable and ongoing research in the area of Māori and traumatic brain injury, Māori and dementia, Māori understandings of cognition, Māori neurodiversity, and Māori and stroke, there is limited current research that provides a basic understanding of the brain through a mātauranga Māori lens. This is contributed by the fact that there is a gap in mainstream health of Indigenous perspectives of the brain, limited research on Māori brain health generally and, Māori understandings of the brain. This project aims to contribute to this mātauranga, close the gaps and specifically:  

  • Investigate what mātauranga Māori is known about the brain; 
  • Investigate what mātauranga Māori is known about the way the brain and the body are seen; 
  • Understand how mātauranga Māori can contribute to maintaining and improving the health and well-being of the brain; and, 
  • Build research capacity and capability across the research project.  

This research is funded by the National Science Challenge:




  • Dr Rāwiri Tinirau 
  • Dr Cherryl Smith 
  • Dr Takirirangi Smith 
  • Dr Andre McLachlan 
  • Morgan Tupaea 
  • Whatahoro Cribb-Fox 
  • Matariki Cribb-Fox