A leading international scientific journal has featured a research paper summarised in te reo Māori, as well as English.
The study, just published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Ecology, included an abstract published in both languages, after an effort by a group of Kiwi researchers.
The paper, led by Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Associate Professor Hannah Buckley and colleagues, looked at the effect of introduced species on the flammability of tussock grasslands in the South Island.
AUT's Dr Valance Smith translated the abstract into Māori and readers can toggle between the English and the translation.
The society also asked the research team to write a blog post and article for the British Ecological Society Bulletin on why it was important to publish the abstract in Māori.
They enlisted AUT colleague Dr John Perrott, an ecologist and an expert on mātauranga Māori (Māori scientific knowledge and understanding) to explain why it is important to publish in the indigenous language of the country where scientific research is undertaken.
Inspired by the blog post, another top tier journal American Naturalist has also started accepting submissions in indigenous languages.
Perrott said the initiative is important in ecology because a lot of the work ecologists do is on indigenous land and using the language is one important way of engaging with indigenous communities.
In New Zealand, scientists wanted effective working relationships with Māori communities and applications for funding had to show an understanding of Māori knowledge and understanding, he said.
"If western science is to become relevant to indigenous cultures, one way forward is through the language of that culture," he said.
"Publishing in te reo Māori is exciting and meaningful for New Zealanders because it gives mana to our indigenous culture and acknowledges the connection that exists between language and our identity."
Māori were under-represented in Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) university programmes and ecological research, and Perrott believed using the language gives Māori a sense of place in the science community and is a step towards turning around low participation.
"We want to give people a place to be who they are," he said.
"Te reo and mātauranga Māori offer scientists the tools to tap into indigenous communities all over the world by emphasising shared values and a willingness to connect."
Professor Pare Keiha, Dean of AUT's Faculty of Māori Development Te Ara Poutama, said the effort supported blending old ways of knowing with new ways of doing.
"Combining scientific approaches with mātauranga Māori provides opportunities to involve Māori in additional science education experiences and to develop co-management strategies that engage Māori in scientific research and scientists in mātauranga Māori."
It comes after New Zealand's leading body for the sciences and humanities last year changed its name to Royal Society Te Apārangi, and began working with Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand's Māori Centre of Research Excellence.
The society also began revising its Code of Professional Standards and Ethics to better recognise practices in Māori research and in working with Māori communities.
It's partway through a shared project, Te Takarangi, showcasing 150 Māori publications each week day until Māori Language Week in September, when all 150 books in the sample list will have been profiled.