In a world where digital science is seen as a complex endeavor, one expert likens it to the simplicities of mahi raranga (flax weaving).
Twenty-eight-year-old Māori Metrologist, Shairae Taepa (Ngāi Tuhoe, Te Arawa) has worked passionately in STEM for a number of years.
STEM includes the academic disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Shairae was recently awarded the title of Measurement New Zealand’s Emerging Metrologist of the Year.
She specialises in electronic metrology where she calibrates and repairs measurement instruments for companies like Rocket Lab and Air New Zealand.
She belongs to a bloodline of creative geniuses from all areas of Toi Māori such as raranga (weaving), whakairo (carving), rauangi (visual arts) and uku (pottery).
Shairae’s kuia (grandmother), a weaver, played a critical role in her life during the push to discover her own reka (sweetness).
“When I weave with my kuia, I know that it is a process that cannot be rushed and I especially enjoy the part of sharing knowledge. Not only are you learning new kōrero, patterns and so on, you are also thinking about ways to implement that knowledge.”
Shairae says working with digital technologies requires that same level of accuracy and care.
“There’s also an emotional aspect where we are creating for or with someone in mind and it shows throughout the mahi. Seeing how that knowledge is transferred into the final product is special and innovative.”
Shairae’s interest in science began at Hukarere Māori Girls’ College in Hawke’s Bay where she credits her ICT teacher, Dr Michael Peterson for planting the inspiration.
One of her end goals is to utilise electronics as a tool to help Māori reconnect with the knowledge of the maramataka (Māori lunar calendar).
She believes that there is a huge gap between Te Ao Māori and electronics that she wants to help bridge.
“I want to do this by developing resources that help inspire more young Māori in this area of STEM.”