Each month we feature a member of our NPM Kāhui Ārahi- Research Leadership Team in our e-pānui. This month we talked with Associate Professor Te Taka Keegan who is the Associate Dean of Māori DHEC, Associate Professor, Department of Software Engineering at the University of Waikato. He is the Co-director of AI Institute Māori Artificial Intelligence Institute and leads NPM Pae Auaha.
Ko wai tō ingoa, nō whea koe?
Nō Waikato-Maniapoto, nō Ngāti Apakura ahau, he tātai whakapapa hoki nō Ngāti Porou, nō Ngāti Whakaue hoki.
Kātahi anō māua kua hoki ki ō māua whenua, ki tētehi tirohanga Pirongia, kāore i tāwhiti ki ngā okiokinga o ō māua tūpuna.
Ko Te Taka Keegan tōku ingoa.
Can you give us a little glimpse into a ‘day in the life’ of Te Taka?
After 40+ years of living in a city, in the last few months my wife and I have been able to return to the country. We brought some land not far from our marae and our urupā. So recently early mornings have begun with a quick walk in the country, to breathe the fresh clean air, kia mihia a Pirongia me te iwi tauwehe, and to smell the land and the cows. I grew up on a farm in Taranaki so I really love the smell of cows! Then after a quick breakfast I get to ride my Triumph Trident to the university, an adrenalin rush that again I have missed out on for around 40 years. My day is normally governed by emails and meetings. I mostly enjoy meetings because of the interactions and prefer kanohi ki te kanohi and rae ki te rae, but I appreciate as an academic, emails and writing are an important part of the role too. I really enjoy teaching too and the student engagement but have lately been bought out a lot to research contracts. It is generally a race to see how much I can get through before the day is over, but on the positive at the end of the day I get to ride the Trident again on the way home. I am not sure if there is anyone who enjoys commuting as much as I do!
What excites you about leading out Pou Pae Auaha?
It is exciting getting insights from the various people on the team of Ngā Pae; some very clever people bringing an eclectic range of perspectives in a determined manner to bring positive change to Māori through research. The Pou Pae Auaha is in its early stages which in itself brings lots of opportunities to lead it into areas that we think can be most beneficial. Technology is so prevalent and so pervasive that it is easy to miss how influential it can be to our tikanga and the shaping of our thinking. We need to be steering technology in a Māori way that supports Māori outcomes and mātauranga Māori and te reo Māori... and if we can do that, ka mau te wehi!
Our NPM vision is flourishing Māori futures. What does that mean for you?
I think for anything to flourish it needs a fertile base, appropriate nourishment and some light to know where to head. This is what I think NPM provides. Me te whakaaro anō he tirohanga ki ngā uri whakatupu.
Lastly, if you could be a manu Māori/NZ Native Bird which one would you choose and why?
I have a lot of affinity for the Tīraiwaka. It was a manu that was close to Tāwhiao, we have a couple proudly carved in our wharenui at Pūrekireki, and a couple of them have been greeting us in our new whare and especially in my external workshop. I enjoy the way they chatter, the way they move and their companionship. I tua atu, there are a couple of introduced pests that at sunrise and sunset are starting to lay the wero; there are some rabbits down the road a bit, and a couple of cheeky as magpies that think they own the place. It's at these times that I would like to be like the Kōtare, and just watch and bide my time, because sooner or later I will be seeing them through the crosshairs of my crossbow... and we'll see who is the cheeky one then!