Pauline Harris

Dr Pauline Harris profile picture

Senior Lecturer Science in Society


Teaching in 2019

Research interests

Mātauranga Māori, Māori astronomy, Māori calendars, Maramataka, climate change, astrophysics, astronomy


I am from the tribes Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Rakaipaka and Ngāti Kahungunu. I have a background in physics - completing my PhD and Master’s at Canterbury University, centred around gamma ray bursts, high-energy neutrino production and inflationary cosmology. I now focus on mātauranga Māori associated with Māori astronomy and traditional Māori calendars called Maramataka. I am extensively involved in the Māori community and am an active member of a number of trust boards. Currently, I am the Chairperson of the Society of Māori Astronomy Research and Traditions (SMART), there, I am dedicated to the collation and the revitalization of Māori astronomical star lore and Maramataka.


My research currently works at the interface between Māori and western science. I utilise tools and knowledge from both systems to engage in active research with communities and knowledge holders to revitalise and generate knowledge pertaining to Māori astronomical knowledge and Maratamaka (Māori traditional calendars). My research has now evolved into areas of traditional ecological knowledge and climate change.

I am interested in engaging with communities to share knowledge and develop projects with them to help advance their goals and aspirations around knowledge revitalisation and education. I also have a strong commitment to collaborate with the wider Pacific community and have helped developed and enabled collaborations with experts in Hawaii, Samoa and Tahiti.

Current research projects include


The study of astronomy is a critical component across cultures and has influenced the evolution of all peoples. Many of my current research projects focus on Maramataka; including the effect of climate change on Maramataka, and how Māori understood their environment, weather, agriculture, biology and astronomical knowledge in relation to Maramataka. I am involved in projects examining Māori beliefs, practices and observations in relation to astronomy.

Environmental Monitoring

I am part of an international team who will build a volcano observatory which will be mounted on traditional canoes called waka. Partnering with Māori and Melanesian voyaging societies, the team will sail this ‘waka lab’ through parts of the Pacific, close to active land-based and underwater volcanoes in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. They will launch aerial drones and ocean submersibles from the waka to collect samples to help identify potentially hazardous volcanoes and increase our understanding of the environmental impacts of volcanic gases, including on climate change.

I am also part of the MacDiarmid institute where I am researching into how Material Science can contribute to solving environmental issues in Māori communities.


Current supervisions include:

Hana Maihi – Title to be determined, PhD (Science in Society).

Te Nia (Navana) Matthews – ‘Is climate change altering the Māori calendrical system of Maramataka in the tribal areas of Tūhoe’, MSc (Science in Society), 2019.

Kate Mauriohooho – ‘A window into magmatic time (340 - 25 ka): How magma systems reorganised between super-eruptions in North and West Taupō’, PhD (Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences).

Recent supervisions include:

Lauren Woon – ‘An Exploration of policy, funding and research involving indigenous people and knowledges in Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand’, SCIS 588 Masters Essay, 2018.

Teneya Nichol – ‘How is climate change affecting indigenous cultures across the world? Using Alaska and New Zealand as the main case studies’, SCIS 588 Masters Essay, 2018.


I am involved in programmes which teach Māori astronomy and Maramataka. I am passionate about education and passing this knowledge to Māori and Pacific youth in their communities. I work with trainee celestial navigator’s/waka voyagers. We travel the country with an inflatable planetarium to schools delivering an exciting programme about celestial navigation and ancient Māori astronomical knowledge. As another example, I helped create a large scale programme called Tuhono i te Ao: Connecting the Worlds which was an Expo aimed at inspiring Māori and Pasifika youth and their communities into science, technology, engineering, art, maths and design (STEAMD).

I believe that research needs to reach all people in their community: “what point is there to research if we do not return this knowledge to the very communities that it originates from”.

So far, these programmes have been delivered to more than 15,000 Māori and Pasifika students around the country.

Selected Publications

  • Harris, P., Clarke, L., Makiha, R., Simmonds, O., Matamua, R., Chadwick, T. and Nichol, T. (2019).  Nga Takahuringa o te Ao: The effect of climate change on traditional Māori calendars. New Zealand Science Review, in preparation.
  • Whaanga, H., Matamua, R. and Harris, P. (2019). The science and practice of Māori astronomy. New Zealand Science Review, in publication.
  • Harris, P. (2017). ‘Portable Planetariums in the Teaching of Māori Astronomy’, in H. Whaanga, T. T. Keegan, & M. Apperley (Eds.), He Whare Hangarau Māori - Language, Culture and Technology. Hamilton: University of Waikato.
  • Harris, P. and Clarke, L. (2017). ‘Maramataka’, in H. Whaanga, T. T. Keegan, & M. Apperley (Eds.), He Whare Hangarau Māori - Language, Culture and Technology. Hamilton: University of Waikato.
  • Harris, P. (2017). ‘Ako: Creating Māori scholars from MAI to My, a reflective journey from student to researcher’, in M. Kēpa & C. Stephen (Eds.), Diversity in Community: Indigenous Scholars Writing. Wellington: NZCER Press.
  • Harris, P., Matamua, R., Kerr, H., Smith, T. & Waaka, T. (2013). A review of Māori astronomy in Aotearoa-New Zealand. The Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 16, 325-336.
  • Gould, A., Yee, J. C., Bond, I. A., Udalski, A., Han, C., Jørgensen, U. G.,Bensby, T.,…Harris, P. ,…Zub, M. (2013). MOA-2010-BLG-523: “Failed planet” = RS CVn star. The Astrophysical Journal, 763, 141. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/763/2/141
  • Shin, I.-G., Sumi, T., Udalski, A., Choi, J. Y., Han, C., Gould, A., …Harris, P. …, Zub, M. (2013). The OGLE Collaboration. Using orbital effects to break the close/wide degeneracy in binary-lens microlensing events. The Astrophysical Journal, 764, 64. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/764/1/64
  • 2013, Street, R. A., Choi, J.-Y., Tsapras, Y., Han, C., Furusawa, K., Hundertmark, M., …Harris, P., … Wouters, D. MOA-2010-BLG-073L: An M-Dwarf with a substellar companion at the planet/brown dwarf boundary. The Astrophysical Journal, 763, 67. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/763/1/67
  • Yee, J. C., Hung, L.-W., Bond, I. A., Allen, W., Monard, L. A. G., Albrow, M. D., … Harris, P., …Udalski, A. (2013). MOA-2010-BLG-311: A planetary candidate below the threshold of reliable detection. The Astrophysical Journal, 769, 77. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/769/1/77
  • Bachelet, E., Shin, I.-G., Han, C., Fouqué, P., Gould, A., Menzies, J. W., … Harris, P., …Dong, S. (2012).  MOA 2010-BLG-477Lb: Constraining the mass of a microlensing planet from microlensing parallax, orbital motion, and detection of blended light. The Astrophysical Journal, 754, 73. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/754/1/73
  • Harris, P. (2009). Responsible research and the media Trap. Mai Review, 2.

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Teaching in 2019