Putaiai - Science

Science education is about learning about the world around us and the interconnectedness of nature. While alignment of traditional beliefs and concepts with contemporary learning and education paradigms does occur naturally, today's mainstream Science education is only just now coming to grips with the interconnected aspects of science and nature that the ancestors always knew existed.

Akoranga should be watching, discussing, listening, testing, exploring, experimenting, making observations and learning from them and exploring what happens when you create change. Science learning can look at a wide range of topics and ideas, from molecular composition, to biome management and wildlife species.

We cannot expect to understand how the hopo can fly, if we dont understand how it knows when to fly or where it has to fly to.

The New Zealalnd Science curriculum is seperated into the following strands: Tuhinga Mua Putaiai (nature of science), Te Ao (the world), Ao Tukupu (space and beyond), Te Ao Matatini (the material world), and Te Ao Tinana (the physical world).


The ancestors knew that the planets, the seasons, the weather, the manu (birds), the kai moana, the plants and even the Gods were all connected, and failure to acknowledge, appease, listen to, or understand any of these would have had a devastating impact on their very existence.

In te ao o tenei ra (the world of today) the mainstream education systems tend to instruct akoranga (learners) about narrow bands of knowledge within the wider subject of science, rather than seeing each as part of a bigger, 'holistic' world. ie: the teaching of strands in early science learning, followed by the distinctive pathways of learning (biology, chemistry and physics) in high school 'sciences' and the ignorance of interconnectedness in university-level sciences.

Our hokotika (belief) is that this underserves the learner. This shortsighted approach neglects the philosophy of life that served Te Imi Moriori well for centuries. It is only in this so-called modern world that our people, like most 'colonised' peoples around the globe have lost and are having to re-learn their connection with papatuanuk (planet earth) and Rongomaiwhenua (Earth Mother).

Putaiai (science) should be learned using the tukanga uiui (inquiry process) where learners ask their own questions, pose their own ideas, test their own hypotheses and design their own experiments and learn and create their own knowledge and understandings.



Ancient Moriori may not have had a word for "science", but;

They new enough about the material and physical worlds to create fire for warmth and to cook their food to avoid sickness

They knew enough about plant growth and development to manage their forests

They knew enough about the physical characteristics of various stone types to make spectacularly beautiful works of art, tools and weapons from them and with them

They knew enough about the world around them to predict seasons, gather various species and prepare and store food for periods of famine

They knew how to construct craft, tools, houses and weapons and which materials were best for each,

and they knew that certain events happened with various pahses of the moon.

For the ancestors of today's Moriori, having an understanding of these things was essential for their very survival.

Why learn about science?Why learn about science?

Scientific knowledge and awareness helps us with problem solving and decision making in many areas of life. Many of the major challenges and opportunities that confront our world today need to be approached from a wholistic scientific perspective, taking into account social, global, cultural and ethical considerations.


According to the New Zealand Curriculum document, Science Education is about:

Science is a way of investigating, understanding, and explaining our natural, physical world and the wider universe. It involves generating and testing ideas, gathering evidence – including by making observations, carrying out investigations and modelling, and communicating and debating with others – in order to develop scientific knowledge, understanding, and explanations. Scientific progress comes from logical, systematic work and from creative insight, built on a foundation of respect for evidence. Different cultures and periods of history have contributed to the development of science.

How is the learning area structured?

The fundamental aims of science education are expressed as a series of achievement aims, grouped by strand.

Nature of Science

The nature of science strand is the overarching, unifying strand. Through it, students learn what science is and how scientists work. They develop the skills, attitudes, and values to build a foundation for understanding the world. They come to appreciate that while scientific knowledge is durable, it is also constantly re-evaluated in the light of new evidence. They learn how scientists carry out investigations, and they come to see science as a socially valuable knowledge system. They learn how science ideas are communicated and to make links between scientific knowledge and everyday decisions and actions. These outcomes are pursued through the following major contexts in which scientific knowledge has developed and continues to develop.

Living World

The living world strand is about living things and how they interact with each other and the environment. Students develop an understanding of the diversity of life and life processes, of where and how life has evolved, of evolution as the link between life processes and ecology, and of the impact of humans on all forms of life. As a result, they are able to make more informed decisions about significant biological issues. The emphasis is on the biology of New Zealand, including the sustainability of New Zealand’s unique fauna and flora and distinctive ecosystems.

Planet Earth and Beyond

The planet earth and beyond strand is about the interconnecting systems and processes of the Earth, the other parts of the solar system, and the universe beyond. Students learn that Earth’s subsystems of geosphere (land), hydrosphere (water), atmosphere (air), and biosphere (life) are interdependent and that all are important. They come to appreciate that humans can affect this interdependence in both positive and negative ways.

Students also learn that Earth provides all the resources required to sustain life except energy from the Sun, and that, as humans, we act as guardians of these finite resources. This means knowing and understanding the numerous interactions of Earth’s four systems with the solar system. Students can then confront the issues facing our planet and make informed decisions about the protection and wise use of Earth’s resources.

The Physical World

The physical world strand provides explanations for a wide range of physical phenomena, including light, sound, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, forces, and motion, united by the concept of energy, which is transformed from one form to another without loss. By studying physics, students gain an understanding of interactions between parts of the physical world and of the ways in which they can be represented. Knowing about physics enables people to understand a wide range of contemporary issues and challenges and potential technological solutions.

The Material World

The material world strand involves the study of matter and the changes it undergoes. In their study of chemistry, students develop understandings of the composition and properties of matter, the changes it undergoes, and the energy involved. They use their understanding of the fundamental properties of chemistry to make sense of the world around them. They learn to interpret their observations by considering the properties and behaviour of atoms, molecules, and ions. They learn to communicate their understandings, using the symbols and conventions of chemistry. Using their knowledge of chemistry, they are better able to understand science-related challenges, such as environmental sustainability and the development of new materials, pharmaceuticals, and sources of energy.


The core strand, Nature of Science, is required learning for all students up to year 10. The other strands provide contexts for learning. Over the course of years 1–10, science programmes should include learning in all four context strands.

Students in years 11–13 are able to specialise in one or more science disciplines, depending on the choices offered in their schools. The achievement objectives in the context strands provide for strand-based specialisations, but a wider range of programmes is possible; for example, schools may offer programmes in biochemistry, education for sustainability, agriculture, horticulture, human biology, or electronics.




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  Check out the NEW Settlement Unit Here >>>>>
There are some interesting differences between the settlement of Rēkohu and the settlement of New Zealand. On Rēkohu, the Europeans arrived before the Māori, but after the Moriori. Have a look, its fascinating and students are genuinely intrigued by it. This is something completely new for them and gets them away from the 'same old stuff' that some teachers tend to teach for their Treaty topics. Don't forget; you can also download the fully workable MSWord or PDF version for each unit plan and unit-plan template, for FREE. That's right! No tricks and no gimmicks: absolutely 100% FREE.
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