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Reconnecting tamariki with valuable wetlands

A new series of repo (wetland) educational resources focusing on education, awareness, and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is available for schools throughout Aotearoa.

A year-long collaborative project between Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research and the Science Learning Hub has created the new bilingual multimedia resources Tuihonoa Te Reo o Te Repo, to support kaupapa Maori and mainstream schools to connect with and protect these valuable ecosystems.

“With only 10 percent of wetlands remaining throughout Aotearoa, the main goal of the project was to create science-based resources from a Te Ao Maori perspective that will help kura and wider whanau reconnect with their local repo and encourage the next generation to have a relationship with them,” says Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research project lead Yvonne Taura.

“We did this by drawing on extensive research published in the cultural wetland handbook Te Reo o Te Repo — The Voice of the Wetland. We demonstrated the importance of matauranga Maori and western scientific knowledge, alongside educational expertise, to develop these educational resources,” she said.

Throughout the project, the team worked closely with a selection of kura kaupapa Maori, located close to local repo across the motu (country).

They also sought the expertise of a Maori adviser and translator. From this, they created Tuihonoa Te Reo o Te Repo, which includes a series of bilingual articles and teacher learning guides that can be adapted to suit primary and secondary aged students, and interactive image maps to help navigate the site, along with short videos interviewing key wetland experts, kaitiaki, and kairangahau Maori.

“This was to ensure the resources developed aligned to the needs of kaiako (teachers), tauira (students) and wider whanau, and to inspire tauira to become kaitiaki of their own repo and improve science understanding and kaitiakitanga capability within kura,” Taura said.

“Kaiako are desperate for resources that showcase how science and Te Ao Maori can work together in educational contexts. These resources make an important contribution to this current gap,” said Andrea Soanes, project manager of the Science Learning Hub, the host of these resources.

Repo are regarded by Maori as taonga and culturally significant and were relied on for sourcing kai and sustenance, building materials, and rongoa Maori (traditional healing).

Today repo continue to play an important role in water quality, flood protection and are habitats for unique native birds, fish, invertebrates, and plants.

More importantly, repo are effective carbon sinks, storing large amount of carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, mitigating the impacts of climate change.

WETLAND EDUCATION: A new educational resource about repo (wetland) are available for all schools to use. Te Maungarongo at Matawhero is one of the few wetlands in Gisborne. Picture by Liam Clayton
WETLAND EDUCATION: A new educational resource about repo (wetland) is available for all schools to use. Te Maungarongo at Matawhero (pictured) is one of the few wetlands in Gisborne. Picture by Liam Clayton