Unitec communications lecturer Giles Dodson has been awarded a $50,000 Vision Matauranga grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to investigate how Marae can play a bigger role in delivering New Zealand school curriculum.
The study will focus on outdoor education and science, and at the same time look at ways to generate income for hapu and iwi development.
Giles has formed a partnership with Northland hapu Te Uri O Hau to look at ways of using its northern Kaipara Marae as a place school groups can go to learn about and experience the local environment and enhance those experiences with Maori knowledge. He says Marae have a great opportunity to offer something unique to the education market.
“The project seeks to enhance existing assets such as the Marae, facilities and the tikanga and Matauranga that goes along with their rohe and use those things in accordance with hapu aspiration.”
“Te Uri O Hau has access to the Kaipara Harbour which is awesome. It’s an interesting environment, subject to a great deal of pressure and from an ecology or biology point of view science teachers should be very interested in going to these places.
“Being able to expand the existing activities to offer these kinds of education services is a pretty straightforward step.”
The aim is to provide professional development opportunities to marae kaitiaki to enhance their capacity to engage with school groups and co-deliver rich experiences, and then attract teachers to bring classes for education visits.
“One of the tasks of this project is to get the business strategy sorted out, working with marae whanau to realise their aspirations with respect to education services, and to get teachers fully on board.
“A lot of this kind of thing is already provided by private education outside the classroom providers. We see this as an opportunity for iwi to compete within that market and maybe get some money out of it.”
Giles says it is hoped the year long project will create a template that could be exported to other Marae around the country to use as a foundation for similar work.
“Hopefully Te Uri o Hau and Unitec will be able to come up with a general operating model that could be used in different marae in a similar way, but obviously with a different environmental context and different tikanga and matauranga to do with that location. We hope to identify the skills that are required for that, and potentially Unitec can offer those as short course training.”