Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, November 16, 2007

New curriculum values Maori knowledge

The Minister of Youth Affairs says the new Maori curriculum is a move towards personalised learning.

Nanaia Mahuta says the curriculum launched yesterday, Te Matauranga o Aotearoa, was developed by the people working in Maori medium schools.

It will allow kura to offer learning relevant to their students, rather than delivering a Pakeha world view in the Maori language.

Ms Mahuta says Maori knowledge remains relevant.

“If you look at our scientific knowledge, via navigation, via astronomy, we do have a body of knowledge there that can be taught and has relevance within the education system,” Ms Mahuta says.

She says Maori medium schools are coming up with innovations which should be picked up by mainstream schools, where the bulk of Maori and Pacific pupils are taught.


One of the world's top science magazines has praised the role of the Maori Centre of Research Excellence in creating a home for Maori science.

The current issue of Science also profiled Nga Pae o te Maramatanga's founding joint director, Michael Walker, and his research on how animals use the earth's magnetic fields to navigate.

Professor Walker says the centre's efforts to increase the number of Maori PhD students is laying the foundation for new insights in science.

“What that brings is that you ask different questions or you have the potential, as Maori coming into the sciences, we are New Zealanders, we are also Maori, we can look at the world from two different points of view, and it means you can see different things. Whenever you look at the world from a different perspective, you see something different,” Professor Walker says.

Maori are underrepresented in the field because few of Maori high school students stick with science subjects after year 10.


A new history of New Zealand accuses artist Charles Goldie of manufacturing a completely fictitious Maori past which embedded itself in the mind of urban New Zealand.

The Big Picture is a book and six part television series by Hamish Keith, kicking off this Sunday.

The former Arts Council chairperson says he's tried to write about New Zealanders, using art as the window.

He says while Maori art has always been strong, it has often been ignored or consigned to the past.

In the meantime, artists like Goldie, Gottfried Lindauer and Louis John Steele mined the Maori world for subject matter.

“I see them all and I describe them as people enrolling to become pallbearers or what they thought was a dying race and a dying culture. And they were quite wrong of course because I think the 1901 census showed an increase in the Maori population, the first since the 1850s. So they were enrolling at the wrong funeral,” Mr Keith says.

He says while Maori leader Apirana Ngata is credited with preserving the culture, he was in fact mummifying it, while prophets like Te Kooti, Rua Kenana and Tahupotiki Ratana kept it evolving and growing.


A Labour Maori MP says the Government needs to engage immediately with Tuhoe to resolve tensions brought to the surface by last months anti-terror raids.

Nanaia Mahuta says she wants to see ministers sitting down to with the residents of Ruatoki and other Tuhoe communities to look for ways forward.

She says there is a lot of emotion round at the moment, but the sort of misguided abuse being thrown at MPs during this week's hikoi on Parliament isn't helpful.

“The way forward to ensure that Tuhoe achieve their real aspirations ifs for the Government to work with them on their treaty settlements, for the Government to have a constructive process to sit with them right now in terms of the police actions and find a constructive way forward, for education outcomes in that community to continue to succeed because they do have some good educational outcomes so it’s not all doom and gloom,” Ms Mahuta says.

She says the collapse of the police's anti-terrorism case against the Urewera 17 seems to confirm that the Terrorism Act is more geared towards external threats, as it was originally conceived.


Local faces are the key to lowering smoking rates.

That's the thinking behind a series of auahi kore posters just launched in Te Arawa.

Phyllis Tangitu, the general manager of Maori health from the Lakes District Health Board, says they wanted familiar faces to promote the smokefree message within Te Arawa.

Among those featured are five generations of the MacFarlane whanau, and the late Witarina Harris with her moko Parewhaika Harris.

“Maori are disproportionately represented in a whole range of smoking related disease areas and the posters are just one endeavour to try and help with the reduction of smoking among our whanau hapu and iwi,” Ms Tangitu says.

The DHB is working on a similar series of posters featuring whanau from Ngati Tuwharetoa


A micro-organism that lives in the boiling mud of Hell's Gate is attracting interest worldwide.

The scientific journal Nature has published an article on Metholkorus infernorum, a bacteria which eats methane.

Methane plays a major part in climate change, because it traps 20 times more heat than carbon dioxide.

Microbiologist Peter Dunfield from the GNS Science crown research institute, who found the bacteria in the Maori-owned Rotorua tourist attraction, says it's an exciting discovery.

“So it prevents the methane coming out of the earth from ever getting to the atmosphere because it eats it up before it gets there, and this is an extremely tough organism that grows at very acid conditions and very high temperatures, so it was a very exciting organism to us,” Dr Dunfield says.

GNS Science has an agreement with the Hells gate owners, the Tikitere Trust, to share any scientific and industrial benefits from the research.


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