Hands on approach used to entice Māori and Pasifika tauira

By Taroi Black

A group called Te Rōpū Āwhina from the University of Victoria  in Wellington is touring the country to support Māori and Pasifika students to study science, engineering, architecture and design. The purpose is to give them more of a hands-on experience.

Making science out of everyday objects. The key is to do it with fun.

Director of Te Ropu Awhina Marie Cocker says, “We decided that we'd lead it and let students come up with the idea so we knew we wanted to do matauranga and science and therefore that was the idea of bringing the two worlds together. But we're also clear that kids don't want to hear it from us. Apparently, we're too old, they want to hear from kids that are doing it. So the students are the best bets.

Student Lewis Edwards admits that science wasn't an exciting subject to learn. However, a practical approach seems to be engaging Māori and Pasifika students.

“Science didn't really capture my attention at school. I'm not too sure if it was the teachers or maybe my learning style but I guess it took me to see the real world outside and travelling to see what science have produced overseas. New Zealand, we're such a young country and when I travel, I saw ancient stuff progressing,” says Edwards.

From ancient fossils to traditional learning, Te Rōpū Āwhina also provides these keen South Auckland schools with a personal background to their own identities.

A representative from SMART (Society of Maori astronomers trust) Rereatea Makiha says, “Experts should know that Māori knowledge stretches back over a thousand years. Our ancestors did not believe that the earth was flat.”

The Te Rōpū Āwhina expo will wrap up at the end of the school year after collaborating with other schools in cities and rural communities.