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Maori engineer brings Matauranga expertise to ESR strategic science panel

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Dr Kēpa Morgan, innovator, academic, professional engineer and former Iwi chief executive has been appointed to the Strategic Science Advisory Panel of the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR).

The panel is appointed by ESR’s Board of Directors. The panel’s primary role is to provide independent, high-level strategic advice as well as identifying potential gaps or risks for the Board and management relating to ESR’s science, research and innovation activities.

ESR Board Chair Denise Church says she, along with the Board and Senior Leadership Team are thrilled to announce Kēpa’s appointment. Dr Morgan joins the existing panel members: Dr Elizabeth Jazwinska, independent board member and science advisor; Dr Ian Elsum, Australian National University; and Professor James Curran, Auckland University.

"Dr Morgan brings a broad range of skills and experience with him, particularly in advancing Indigenous knowledge," she says. "Kēpa has the ability to draw on a wide range of knowledge - from the field of engineering to Mātauranga Māori and lots in between - alongside communities and organisations in Aotearoa, and with other Indigenous communities around the world."

Based in Rotorua, Dr Morgan who is of Ngāti Pikiao, Te Arawa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Kāi Tahu and Kāti Māmoe descent, says ESR’s specialisation in science for communities is of particular interest to him. "There are definite overlaps with my cultural identity, my professional career and research interests," he says. "Safeguarding our health, keeping our communities safe, protecting our food-based economy, and improving the health of our water and natural environment resonate with me, professionally and at the HapÅ« level."

In 2005, while completing his engineering doctorate, Dr Morgan developed the Mauri Model decision-making framework and mauri0meter to assist discussions and decisions about municipal water use that incorporate cultural considerations. That research is now relevant in many contexts associated with Te Mana O Te Wai and the Three Waters Reforms.

"Hapū and Iwi are the holders of cultural knowledge and identity. Much of my mauri-based work, with Iwi and Hapū, includes enhancing water quality and environmental integrity, he says. "I am well-versed in kaupapa Māori research methods, and the potential contribution of Mātauranga Māori in research programmes," he says.

Dr Morgan is trilingual (English, Māori, Hawaiian), he is a former Chief Executive of Te Rūnanga ō Ngāti Pikiao, Te Kotahitanga ō Te Arawa Fisheries, and Ngāti Mākino Iwi Authority. Kēpa was Associate Dean at the University of Auckland and is currently Pou Hautū for Mahi Maioro Professionals. He has a Bachelor of Engineering and a PhD in Civil Engineering from The University of Auckland, and a Master of Business Administration (Technology) from Deakin University, Melbourne. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand and has held board directorships since 1990.

Since 2019 Dr Morgan has led the Mōhiotanga Te Arawa research team for Pohewa Pae Tawhiti - Our Land and Water National Science Challenge. He is also working with the Cook Island’s Government, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to lead a mauri-based evaluation of wastewater options for the Muri Lagoon on Rarotonga.

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