About Us



The SMART Team


SMART was established during the International Year of Astronomy 2009,  the trust is made up of astronomical educators, Mäori knowledge experts and research specialists.


Their long term vision is to preserve Mäori astronomical knowledge, to encourage Mäori into science, to see the realisation of Mäori potential and to launch Mäori success. 

Dr. Pauline Harris Phd

Chairman of the Board 

From Rongomaiwahine and has completed a Masters Degree in Astronomy and a PhD in Astrophysics at Canterbury University. She is currently a Te Tipu Pῡtaiao Postdoctoral Award holder from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Victoria University, where she is dedicated to searching for extra-solar planets and the collation and revitalisation of Maori Astronomical star lore. Pauline has been involved in the revitalisation of Maori star lore for the past 7 years, where she has given many talks pertaining to Maori Astronomy and Matariki/Puanga all around the country and overseas. She is involved with Maori research in other areas such as the relationship between, Science  and Matauranga, as well as more specialized areas such as ethics in biotechnology.  Dr Harris has co-authored two books, and published in a wide variety of forums.


Toa Waaka


A Matauranga Maori specialist in Tatai Arorangi – Maori Astronomy. He studied Maori Anthropology papers at Auckland University of Technology and plans to complete his Masters degree at Te Wananga O Raukawa, majoring in Maori Cosmology and Astronomy. Throughout the past 15 years, Mr Waaka has worked as a cultural adviser to the Auckland City Council and various other organisations.  In particular, he was involved in the refurbishment of the new Carter at Carter Observatory in Wellington between  2007 – 2008. Recently Mr Waaka was recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientfic and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for his commitment and outstanding contribution to the success of the International Year of Astronomy(2009) in Aotearoa New Zealand, 2010.


Ockie Simmonds


Real name Henere Tumapuhia, of Raukawa and Nga Puhi parents, is a strong advocate of the retention and understanding of Maori astronomy. He has a background vocation in telecommunications engineering of 18 years with NZ Civil Aviation; specialising in surveillance and weather (1cm & 10 cm) radar systems in NZ and the Pacific.  Ockie spent eight years with Maori education in the Ministry of Education & the past five years managing contracts of technical specialists in the management of hazardous substances for the Department of Labour.  Ockie has a broad understanding of astronomy & cosmology.  His promotion of the Maori night sky is legendary with his whänau.  He advocates a new model of the Universe, called the Raukawa Universe, whereby the Raukawa universe is expanding at the velocity of light; that is, all galaxies, black holes, stars, matter, antimatter, the solar system, including planet Earth, are being propagated through space at velocity of light; in accordance with the demands of velocity of light postulate.


Board Members :


Hekenukumai Ngaiwi Puhipi Busby

From Te Rarawa/Ngati Kahu. He is highly recognized in Aotearoa-New Zealand and across the Pacific for leading the revival of ocean voyaging and navigation using traditional Polynesian double hull canoes and wayfinding methods. In 1991/1992 Hekenukumai built the waka hourua Te Aurere, in response to Sir James Henare’s wishes, and sailed it back to Rarotonga in central Polynesia. Te Aurere has now sailed over 30,000 nautical miles visiting Hawai’i, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island. Busby also played a central role in re-launching Ngatokimatawhaorua for the 1974 Waitangi Day celebrations.


Hoturoa Kerr

A lecturer in Maori Studies at the University of Waikato. He is an active contributer to the vaka field, dedicated to passing on the spirit, traditional knowledge and confidence of these early way finders to rangatahi (youth).  Hoturoa asserts that science can be perceived as a western concept which Maori and Pacific Islanders can’t quite relate to. However, when youth learn about how their ancestors cleverly built and sailed their waka across enormous ocean expanses, they tend to engage, gain a sense of identity, and grow in confidence and self esteem.


Jack Thatcher

An experienced waka voyager. He is one of only two New Zealand graduates in celestial navigation, having been trained in the ancient art by master navigator Nainoa Thompson - the first Hawaiian to practice the art of Polynesian navigation since the 14th century.  For the past decade Jack has been teaching others how to plot an ocean sailing course by the sun, moon, stars and planets, and applied his knowledge of these techniques to many open Pacific expeditions. Jack was the original navigator of the ocean-voyaging waka Te Aurere, and alongside Stanley Conrad – the captain of Te Aurere - conducts regular wananga for people who wish to learn the ancient arts of wayfinding and waka sailing.


Taku Parai

A well respected member of Te Runanga o Ngati Toa and a Chief Adviser to the Mayor of Porirua City. He holds positios on many boards, including Co-Chair of Whitreia Park Board, advisor to the Porirua Harbor Restoration Board and member of Te Upoko O te Ika Maori Radio Board. Mr. Parai also works in the health sector and with Whitireia Polytechnic


Dr. Takirirangi Smith

Has served in the role of Tohunga Whakairo, teaching and mentoring Maori carvers at Victoria University of Wellington; Wairarapa Polytechnic; and Te Heru a Tangi Culture and Education Centre, Masterton.

Most recently, he was awarded an Honourary Doctorate from Victoria University for his contribution to Maori Knowledge.   


Dr, Rangi Matamua

A graduate of the Panekiretanga o Te Reo Maori language excellence programme and has a PhD degree focused on Maori research. Dr. Matamua has delivered numerous Maori astronomy lectures and presentations at schools, marae, Universities, online and via television and has produced various Maori astrnomy publications.





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Dr Takirirangi Smith