After fighting off attempt to expel them, academics resign from learned academy over ‘untoward political focus’
Two New Zealand professors have quit the country’s learned academy in the latest fallout from a divisive debate over the “parity” of indigenous knowledge and science.
If the Royal Society (New Zealand) hoped that dropping the formal inquiry into the two academics (who wrote an open letter complaining they were required to talk about Māori beliefs and traditional practices with regard to medicine when conducting a talk about biomedicine) they badly misread the situation. The two academics have very publically resigned from the Royal Society. Rather than quietening down a loud and toxic argument, it seems the Royal Society has managed to inflame both sides.
The letter criticised plans to incorporate mātauranga Māori – Māori knowledge – into the school science curriculum and teach teenagers that science had been enlisted “as a rationale for colonisation of Māori”.
It drew passionate responses on both sides of a debate over the relationship between indigenous knowledge and science. Five letters to the RSNZ complained that the authors had breached its Code of Professional Standards and Ethics and demanded “repercussions” including “revoking the membership” of the authors.
After months of consideration, an investigation panel convened by the RSNZ ruled that the complaints did not warrant further scrutiny. It found that the matter was “not amenable to resolution” because it would have required evaluation of “contentious expert opinion or of contested scientific evidence”.