March 15, 2023

Team Profile:
Waiwhatu Project: Developing Shared Language

photo credit:
NZ Story (Lonnie Hutchinson)

We have completed a pilot project, designed to take people on the journey of mutual understanding and collaboration through the development of shared language tools. You can learn more about, and listen to, the six kupu (words) we explored in Te Reo Māori (Māori language), using the links at the bottom of this page.  

This search for shared understanding was born out of difficulties experienced when trying to source meaningful relevant words in Te Reo Māori to define scientific terms used in geothermal research. Words driven by English often make no sense in Te Reo Māori. Instead, words and concepts are often cobbled together with literal translations for parts of words. For example, ngawha means hot spring, but is commonly used to replace the word geothermal.

We used the word waiwhatu for geothermal, which means fluid from the core (heart of the Earth), not fresh water, but fluid woven through the inside of the Earth to the surface.

Science is often hard to relate to, as scientists speak a different language and concepts aren’t easily aligned to the natural knowledge systems of Mātauranga (knowledge). Similarly, scientists find it hard to understand and relate to Māori concepts and thinking. Many of the geothermal terms used are from specific languages, such as lahar from Javanese, pāhoehoe and a'ā from Hawai'ian, geyser from Icelandic 'geysir' and lava from Italian.

In the Waiwhatu Project, we developed and implemented the Māori vocabulary and discourse that enables the exchange of meaningful and comprehensive ideas and knowledge relating to all matters geothermal. Scientists explained useful technical concepts, relevant to earth sciences, geothermal and volcanology, and then our team interpreted these through a Māori lens into a shared language, bringing Mātauranga Māori (indigenous knowledge) and western science into one space.

Whilst English is impacting the evolvement of the Māori language, it was important to be conscious of the need to protect, but not stifle, the scientific understanding as well as the linguistic integrity of either language. This project contributes to the revival, maintenance and development of Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) about geothermal, within the wider context of earth sciences.

(Credit: NZ Story)

Testing the kupu

A group of tertiary students from Aotearoa, known as Ngā Tauira o Rūaumoko, visited Iceland in 2022 to look at the use of geothermal there. Whilst they had a very busy schedule they found time to consider the vocabulary promoted in this project. Their overall assessment was:

“In the end, we all collectively agreed that these kupu [words] do effectively support bridging the gap between science and Te Ao Māori”

Corey Rehua, a member of the Waiwhatu team, presented the project and shared the new kupu at the  IAVCEI Scientific Assembly (Ko Rūaumokoe Ngunguru Nei) in Rotorua (Jan-Feb 2023).

The new kupu

Magma : Tokarewa


Definition: Magma – Extremely hot molten or semi-molten rock that exists exclusively underground. toka - rock; rewa - to melt, to become liquid

Example sentences (in audio file):

Scientists use the term tokarewa for molten rock that is underground and rangitoto for molten rock that breaks through the Earth's surface.

Whakamahi ai ngā mātanga pūtaiao i te kupu tokarewa hei tohu i ngā toka kua rewai raro i te whenua, ā, ko te kupu 'rangitoto' ina pākaru ake te tokarewa kirunga i te mata o te whenua.

A surprise tokarewa pocket was found in Iceland during deep drilling project.

He mea ohorere te kite iho i te pūkoro tokarewai Tiorangi i te wiringa iho ki raro rawa.

Lava : Rangitoto


Definition: Lava – Molten rock that has beenerupted at the surface of the earth, magma that has now become lava. Rangitoto - black lava, scoria; said to be the blood from Tamatekapua's nose.

Example sentences (in audio file):

The rangitoto was thick enough to retain warmth so moss eventually grew over the top.

Na te mātōtoru o te rangitoto i mau tonu ai te mahana kia tupuria ai e te pūkohukohu.

The rangitoto lamp in the corner provided ambiance.

He rerehua te rūma i te rātana rangitoto i te kokonga.

Geothermal fluid : Waiwhatu


Definition: Geothermal fluid - The liquid present inside a geothermal reservoir that can flow to the surface naturally or through wells.Geothermal fluid is the energy carrier that allows the extraction and utilization of heat from the earth. Wai - liquid, oil, etc; whatu - stone, core.

Example sentences (in audio file):

Waiwhatu is a hot and concentrated saline solution, having circulated through the very hot rocks of geothermal areas and are enriched with minerals.

He mehanga kurutai kukū wera te waiwhatu, na te rērere haere i waenga i ngā toka wera rawa o ngā wāhi ahitupua, ā, nā reira hoki i kīkī ai i ngā kohuke.

Waiwhatu are usually highly mineralized reflecting the long-term mineral-fluid interactions.

He maha ngā waiwhatu e kī ana i ngā kohuke na te roanga o ngā taupāpātanga o tētahi i tētahi.

Waiwhatu loses enthalpy after power generation, however it still can offer energy to

industrial processes.

Heke ai te ngaohū o te waiwhatu i muri i te mahi hiko, otirā, tuku tonu ai i te ngao ki ngā tukanga ahumahi.

Reservoir : Māpuna


Definition: Reservoir - The section of a geothermal field below ground that is so hot and permeable that fluid can be economically extracted for the production of fluid and heat. This contains: (1) an aquifer or fracture network containing hot fluid, (2) a path through which cold water can flow to recharge the system or an input of magmatic fluid and (3) a source of heat. Māpuna - to well up, to form a pool.

Example sentences (in audio file):

Māpuna are geothermal resources of hot fluid that exist at varying temperatures and depths below the Earth's surface.

He rawa waiwhatu ngā māpuna e hia nei ngā paemahana, e hia nei te hōhonu iho i te mata o te whenua.

The resource is not the power station on the surface but the māpuna in the subsurface. They are a treasure.

Ehara te wharehiko i te rawa no runga i te mata o te whenua, engari ko te māpuna waiwhatu kē o raro iho. He tāonga ērā.

The dynamics of the māpuna are highly complex.

He mea tuatini rawa ngā taineke o tētahi māpuna.

Enthalpy : Ngaohū


Definition: Enthalpy - the sum of the internal energy and the product of the pressure and volume of a thermodynamic system. Ngao - strength, energy; hū - still, at rest.

Example sentences (in audio file):

Ngaohū is the sum of the system's internal energy.

Ko te ngaohū te tapeke o ngā ngao katoa o roto i tētahi pūnaha.

High ngaohū can be a significant source of heat.

He tino mātāpuna o te wera ina rahi te ngaohū.

The specific ngaohū of geothermal liquid depends primarily on temperature.

Hāngai ai te ngaohū ake o te waiwhatu ki te paemahana.

Wrinkling : Kūwhewhewhewhe


Definition: Kūwhewhewhewhe - puckered, wrinkled [This is a Te Arawa term for wrinkling of the skin after being in water for a long time].

Example sentences (in audio file):

Kūwhewhewhewhe is the term for wrinkled skin after being in the hot pool.

Tohu ai te kūwhewhewhewhe i te reherehe o te kiri i muri i te kaukau i te waiariki.

Wondering why your fingers and toes get kūwhewhewhewhe in the water?

Kei te pātai ake koe i te take o te kūwhewhewhewhe o ngā matikara?

(Credit: Pixabay)

We thank and acknowledge the mahi of the Waiwhatu Project Team: Uenuku Fairhall, Andy Blair, Paul Siratovich, Corey Ruha and Aroha Campbell.

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mātauranga Māori
science communication
geothermal fluids

Further Updates