Dr. Ocean Mercier

Element - - LIFE STYLE -

Grow­ing up with young, stu­dent par­ents, Ocean Mercier was in­stilled with a strong phi­los­o­phy of ‘waste-not, want-not and make-your-own val­ues’. Mercier, of Ngati Porou de­scent, com­pleted her PhD is physics in 2002 at Vic­to­ria Univer­sity of Welling­ton (VUW), the first ever awarded to a Maori woman. Lec­tur­ing in Te Kawa a Maui at VUW since 2005, Mercier fo­cuses on Maori sci­ence and in­dige­nous knowl­edge. She be­lieves sci­ence is key to a healthy fu­ture, and hopes to see our coun­try en­gaged in “world-class sci­ence that en­hances our wealth, mak­ing more

money from our brains and less from un­sus­tain­able prac­tises on our land.” Her other job is as the host of ‘Project Matau­ranga’, Maori TV’s doc­u­men­tary se­ries show­cas­ing projects that blend matau­ranga Maori (Maori knowl­edge) and West­ern sci­ence to cre­ate in­no­va­tive, sus­tain­able so­lu­tions. The projects are based on Maori re­search in part­ner­ship with univer­si­ties and Crown Re­search In­sti­tutes, says Mercier. “Th­ese vary from us­ing muka (flax fi­bre) to re­in­force earthen bricks for hous­ing, to putting pine for­est floor to use by plant­ing gin­seng, to re­cy­cling marae grey water through ri­par­ian strips to re­vi­tal­is­ing en­dan­gered species.” There was so much

ma­te­rial that a sec­ond sea­son is cur­rently be­ing filmed. Mercier is passionate about work­ing with Maori and in­dige­nous peo­ples and hopes to see all peo­ple recog­nis­ing the unique place of iwi and hapu in Aotearoa; “it’s in all of our in­ter­ests to vest kaiti­ak­i­tanga in the peo­ple who’ve built up hun­dreds of years worth of ex­pe­ri­ence in liv­ing sus­tain­ably here, not in a three-year government,

par­tic­u­larly one that wants to sell off our as­sets.”

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