Marine science wānanga inspires Golden Bay students

Participants in the marine science wānanga at Otetahua Marae, Golden Bay, 27–29 March.  Credit: Stacey Reynolds, University of Otago

The University of Otago and Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge were invited by Mana Whenua ki Mōhua (mana whenua in Golden Bay) to deliver a science wānanga at Onetahua Kōkiri Marae from 27–29 March.

Students, teachers and mana whenua were part of a wānanga bringing together iwi and science perspectives of Golden Bay’s marine environment.

Over three days, more than 30 participants explored topics of marine management, mātauranga Māori, kaitiakitanga and marine science. Learning was interactive and hands-on with activities and trips to Wainui Bay and Waikoropupū Springs.

For teachers it was an opportunity to engage with rangatahi (the younger generation). “We were immersed in tikanga, and the science was relevant to life,” one teacher commented.

For students, the aim was to make science fun, active and relevant to their surroundings. This included studying water quality in Golden Bay, and the effects on shellfish like mussels and scallops. With a focus on how mātauranga Māori and a ‘mountains to sea’ approach could help improve the ecosystem. 

“Mana whenua highly appreciated us bringing our expertise to the rangatahi of Golden Bay… and their appreciation was shown in the manaakitanga they extended during our stay,” says Dr Tracy Perry, Associate Dean (Māori) from the University of Otago.

Dr Perry said the rangatahi enjoyed the learning experiences that interwove science with Te Aō Māori through activities from water chemistry to planting on sand dunes, and which all demonstrated kaitiakitanga.

Onetahua Marae in Golden Bay is used by the whole community and is home to Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu and Te Ātiawa o Te Waka a Māui.