Ka mua, ka muri: navigating the future of design education by drawing upon indigenous frameworks


  • Zak Waipara




Design, Education, Mātauranga Māori, Metaphor, Polynesian Navigation


As design practitioners and educators attempt to respond to a shifting world– in the Māori language, Te Ao Hurihuri–how might we manage such changes? An indigenous precedent draws upon the past to assist the future: ka mua ka muri, ‘travelling backwards into the future,’ the past spread out behind us, as we move into the unknown. Indigenous academics draw inspiration from extant traditional viewpoints, reframing them as methodologies, using metaphor to shape solutions. What is it about the power of metaphor, particularly indigenous ways of seeing, that might offer solutions? In this paper, I describe explorations to extract guiding principles from Indigenous navigational knowledge. The goal: to construct a applicable structure for tertiary design teaching from two metaphorical models, based in Samoan and Hawaiian worldviews, and related Māori concepts. The result was a Navigator framework, created for potential use in a collaborative, studio-style classroom.


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Author Biography

Zak Waipara

is a lecturer in Digital Communications, School of Communications, at Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. He has worked in animation, written and drawn comics and illustrated a range of books, and is currently working on doctoral research at the intersection of comics, children’s books and indigenous storytelling.


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How to Cite

Waipara, Z. (2021). Ka mua, ka muri: navigating the future of design education by drawing upon indigenous frameworks. DAT Journal, 6(2), 362–385. https://doi.org/10.29147/dat.v6i2.404