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Science in Te Marautanga o Aotearoa

Science knowledge is a product of human culture and belongs to all cultures. It concerns the natural world and the place of humanity in that world. It involves testing ideas against sensory experience; it is flexible, fallible knowledge, to be continually reviewed and updated.

Traditional and modern knowledge are both valued

A student’s critical faculty is enhanced by the inclusion of a Māori world view: their own 'baskets' or perspectives become a foundation for studying those that have originated in other cultures.

Nā Rangi tāua, nā Tū-a-nuku e takoto nei ko ahau tēnei; ko mea ā mea.

You and I both descend from Rangi and Papa; this is me.

By learning about science from a Māori perspective, students deepen their own inquiry into the nature of science. Connecting traditional knowledge to modern knowledge gives them opportunities to question assumptions and test theories.

Students also learn to be vigilant concerning the impacts of science in the world and to engage with the big issues that confront scientists – issues that affect the health and well-being of individuals, society, and eco-systems.

Engaging with the work of real-life scientists and discovering how their research affects life today and tomorrow is an essential aspect of science inquiry, as is retaining respect for the natural environment and all its inhabitants.

The four strands of pūtaiao (science)

Pūtaiao is structured in four strands and three aspects. The three aspects (or characteristics) are:

  • Ngā momo tūhuratanga pūtaiao (science investigations)
  • Te reo matatini o te pūtaiao (science literacy)
  • Te whakamahinga o te pūtaiao (uses of science)

Study of these aspects is integrated into the contexts of the three strands: Te Ao Tūroa (Natural world), Ō Ahupūngao (Physical world), and Ō Kawekawe (Material world). A fourth strand is Ngā Tautake Pūtaiao me ngā Kōrero-o-Mua (Philosophy and history of science).

Te Ao Tūroa (World of nature)

This is the largest strand. It includes all living things in the human, plant, animal, and other kingdoms. It is metaphorically associated with most of the traditional familial deities, which collectively represent a Māori system of organising and understanding the natural world and the relationships between all living things. It reminds us to respect the mauri of everything that we find or use.

Te Ao Tūroa has four substrands: Te Rauropi (the organism), Te Taiao (the biological environment), Papatū-ā-nuku (Earth science), and Ranginui (astronomy).

Ō Ahupūngao (Physical world)

This strand concerns the principles that underpin the operation of the whole universe, in all its dimensions. Tāwhirimatea in perpetual motion is guardian of this strand, which has three substrands: Te Tōpana me te Nekenga (force and motion), Te Ngaru me te Ngotangota (waves and particles), and Te Hiko me te Autō (electricity and magnetism).

Ō Kawekawe (Material world)

This strand concerns the building blocks of matter, of which every object in the universe – whether earthworm or star – is constructed. Rūaumoko is the guardian of this strand, which has three substrands: Ngā Āhuatanga me ngā Panoni Matū (chemical properties and changes), Te Whakamahi Pūmatū (chemistry and society), and Te Hanga Matū (the structure of matter).

Ngā Tautake Pūtaiao me ngā Kōrero-o-Mua (Philosphy and history of science)

This strand provides opportunities for students to examine science as a system of knowledge and encourages them to scrutinise how science knowledge applies to their own world.

Last updated July 18, 2012