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Wetekia kia rere: the potential for place-conscious education approaches to reassure the indigenization of science education in New Zealand settings

journal contribution
posted on 27.08.2019 by Angus Macfarlane, Richard Manning, Jamie Ataria, Sonja Macfarlane, Melissa Derby, Te Hurinui Clarke
Wetekia kia rere is an expression in the Māori language that refers to unleashing potential. This paper discusses questions of power relevant to challenges recently identified by government officials regarding learners’ experiences of science education in New Zealand schools. We begin by summarising the Treaty relationship (Treaty of Waitangi, considered to be the country’s founding document first signed in 1840) that informs the framing of New Zealand’s science curriculum guidelines. Next we outline some official New Zealand education strategies along with several policy guidelines relevant to the aspirations of Māori communities for a transformative science curriculum. This is followed by a discussion of how the historical processes of ecological imperialism, environmental racism and institutional racism have combined to attenuate Māori experiences of science education. A review of international literature is then presented to support calls for the development of place-conscious approaches to science education which validate Māori knowledge and learning contexts and Māori initiatives to seek eco-justice. Finally, a case study of a Pā Wānanga (Māori learning community) is provided to suggest potential solutions to some of the problems discussed previously.