Blending mātauranga Māori and science
Passionate rangatahi focus ao Maori lens on environment
By Te Arawa Lakes Trust
Te Arawa Lakes Trust’s inaugural Te Tūkohu Ngāwhā Science and Design Fair is inspiring rangatahi to blend mātauranga Māori and Western science to tackle some of the pressing environmental issues that Aotearoa faces. From restoring native species, through to pest control and measuring and creating habitats to improve biodiversity, the fair will showcase the creativity, scientific research and experimentation of Year 5 to 13 tamariki and rangatahi from across the Te Arawa rohe. A joint kaupapa between Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Bay of Plenty Regional Council, the mātauranga Māori science fair is believed to be the first of its kind, specifically targeting environmental issues through a te ao Māori lens. Running from June 30 to July 2, the fair has five categories — water quality, biosecurity, biodiversity, mātauranga Māori, and sustainability. Te Arawa Lakes Trust Operations Manager – Biosecurity and Jobs for Nature, William Anaru, says rangatahi are using the science fair to explore ways to combine mātauranga Māori and western science to influence decisions and future management within te taiao. “Our Te Arawa rangatahi are so enthusiastic and passionate about being kaitiaki for the environment and that has really shone through in their mahi. “Our vision for Te Tūkohu Ngāwhā Science and Design Fair is to bring it to other rohe and encourage more kōrero about how we can use our knowledge as Māori to improve te taiao around us.” Mr Anaru says the fair will be open to the public, providing a unique opportunity for the community to see mātauranga Māori and western science as different, but equal, types of knowledge. “It also gives rangatahi a chance to start having conversations with each other about the state of te taiao and how they see themselves managing it in the future. They will be our decision makers and ones who drive change.” Bay of Plenty Regional Council Biosecurity Manager, Greg Corbett, says the collaboration perfectly aligns with the Regional Council’s four community outcomes – He taiao ora (A healthy environment); Te mana o te wai (Freshwater for Life); Kia haumaru, kia pakari te hapori (Safe and resilient communities) and Toitū te rohe (A vibrant region). “The future health of the region is in the hands of these rangatahi, so challenging them to think holistically about how to tackle the environmental issues of today by combining mātauranga Māori and Western science is something we fully support.” Room Four tamariki from Kaitao Intermediate School are submitting 13 entries in this year’s event. Whaea Dasha Howell-emery says the whole class has embraced the kaupapa, learning new things about the environment around them, every day. “We have focused on experiments that are applicable to our everyday lives, so even after the fair, we can continue the kaupapa. “We have also approached the event with a fully-sustainable way of thinking, right down to using recycled cardboard for our displays.” Whaea Howell-emery says the tamariki are already applying their knowledge to the ongoing restoration of the school’s garden. “The garden is a space for us to learn in nature, watch biodiversity grow and see the effects of pest control. “This science fair is an awesome kaupapa that we want to support as Room Four are passionate about the taiao.” Te Tūkohu Ngāwhā Science and Design Fair will be held at Motion Entertainment and will be open to the public. The prizegiving will be held on Friday evening.