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Ariana Estoras

Director Māori Research and Partnerships

Director Māori Research and Partnerships - Ariana Estorias

Director Māori Research and Partnerships, Ariana Estoras (Ngāti Maniapoto), develops farming solutions that stem from both Mātauranga Māori and science

By Ariana Estora with Cassie Hart

My parents knew the importance of fostering a connection with the land of our ancestors, so my sister and I spent every school holiday on my grandfather’s dry stock (sheep and beef) farm in the Waitomo, working with him most days. I asked lots of questions – why tadpoles turn into frogs; why cows are different colours; how he knew when a storm was coming. He really indulged my questions, explaining how things worked. 

RELATED: Find more Indigenous role models in STEM

At school I saw how science could answer some of those questions about the natural world, so I knew that my degree was going to be science related. I ended up completing a Masters in Science with a Major in Biochemistry. Since then, I’ve also done a lot of study in Te Reo Māori and Mātauranga Māori, the language and knowledge of my people.

Now I work for AgResearch, a Crown Research Institute developing solutions that stem from both Mātauranga Māori and science. One current project meshes traditional use of Māori planting practices based around the Māori lunar cycle, with western-based agricultural science. The aim is to improve both the productivity of the farm as well as care for the natural resources in a holistic way. 

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I get to combine things I love and that are part of my identity, and make sure Māori have better access to research and science. I get to recruit Kaupapa Māori research staff, work on agreements with strategic partners, and also make sure that we’re embedding Te Ao Māori into our organisation.

Kaupapa Māori and science is so important to me, so I feel truly blessed that I get to do work that is both personally and professionally rewarding.

My best advice for any career is not to leave anything about your identity at the door. Bring it all, it is wonderful, unique and it will only strengthen the world of STEM and Kaupapa Māori.

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Ariana’s path to becoming Director Māori Research and Partnerships

  • MSc (Biochemistry) – Otago University
  • Research Office – Imperial College, UK
  • Agricultural Analyst – Beef + Lamb NZ
  • Senior Māori Partnerships Advisor – Ministry for Primary Industries
  • Heke Mātauranga Māori – Te Wānanga o Raukawa
  • Director Māori Research and Partnerships – AgResearch

A version of this profile also appears in our upcoming issue of Careers with STEM: Indigenous. Sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on its launch date.

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