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  • Wetland ecosystems hold significant environmental and cultural value in Aotearoa. Learning about these values and the steps we can take to protect and uphold the values are suited to inquiry investigations. This interactive guides you through the process.

    Select a label for more information, links to resources and questions for consideration.

    To use this interactive, move your mouse or finger over any of the labelled boxes and click to obtain more information.


    Inquiry and action learning process

    Using an environmental education inquiry process develops essential skills as students become involved in finding information, developing cultural competency, examining different points of view, communicating with others and problem solving for environmental improvement. Providing support and guidance of the process for students is key for successful learning and action outcomes. Some students will require more scaffolding than others.

    The skills involved in identifying, investigating and problem solving with environmental issues supports:

    • the New Zealand Curriculum’s vision, principles, values and key competencies
    • the aims of environmental education
    • the guiding principles of environmental education for sustainability
    • the science capabilities – specifically the gathering of data, use of evidence and engagement with science
    • meaningful and place-based cross-curricular learning
    • the New Zealand Government’s Environmental Education for Sustainability Strategy and Action Plan.

    This interactive provides guidance for planning and working through an inquiry investigation. It also includes links to resources that will be beneficial in developing background knowledge.

    The article Repo (wetlands) – a context for learning provides additional curriculum and pedagogical information.

    Harakeke, © Sue Scheele. Sourced from Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland.

    Tuihonoa Te Reo o Te Repo

    He kohinga rauemi pāhekoheko a Tuihonoa Te Reo o Te Repo hei āwhina i ngā kaiako ki te whakatītina i ngā ākonga kia tū hei kaitiaki mō ngā repo. E whai ana hoki kia tū tiketike mai te mātauranga Māori, mā roto i ngā mahi whakaora taiao.

    Manatārua: Janice McKenna. Nō roto mai i Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland.

    Encouraging curiosity

    Create opportunities for students to become curious about repo (wetlands). New Zealand has lost around 90% of its wetlands so students may not be aware of their existence, their importance as ecosystems and their importance as taonga to Māori.

    The National Wetland Trust of New Zealand has a list of wetland trails open to the public. There are lots of smaller wetlands on public lands – contact your local council for more information. It is also worthwhile asking the local community about wetlands on private properties or farms. Under policies such as the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, wetlands on farms are being fenced, protected and restored. Stream and rivercare groups may also know of local wetlands and restorations programmes.

    Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland is an online handbook for wetland restoration. A strong feature of the handbook is the knowledge that can be gained from whānau, hapū and iwi about the history of local repo and associated mātauranga Māori.


    Questions to consider

    • Are there wetlands in our local area?
    • Were there once wetlands in our local area?
    • How can we find out what plants and animals might have been here before land use changed the landscape?
    • Why are wetlands important as habitats?
    • Why are wetlands important for people?
    • What are the issues affecting wetlands?
    • How do these issues affect plant and animal species?
    • How do these issues affect humans?
    • What do we already know about these issues?
    • What is our vision for the future of our repo?

    Culturally significant plants in a wetland, © Monica Peters. Sourced from Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland.

    Connections: looking deeper

    Wetlands are rich in biodiversity. They are the ‘in between’ places that connect the water with the land, providing habitats for native plants, invertebrates, fish and birds.

    Repo are also rich in Māori cultural practices, providing mahinga kai, medicinal plants for rongoā, material for weaving, a reservoir for mātauranga and more.

    After looking at the concept of connections, choose an aspect or issue that students wish to pursue. Focusing on one issue at a time allows for deeper learning and understanding. It can also lead to a more achievable action or actions.

    This step develops thinking skills and information gathering to delve more deeply into the topic. It supports the science capabilities ‘Gather and interpret data’, ‘Use evidence’ and ‘Critique evidence’.


    Questions to consider

    • What is the issue we wish to learn about?
    • Where does the issue occur?
    • What causes the issue to happen?
    • Who does the issue involve?
    • How does this issue affect wellbeing?
    • How does this issue affect the concept of te ao mārama (interconnections)?
    • What resources do we need to learn about the issue?
    • What other information might we need?
    • Where can we find this information?
    • What knowledge can we gain from local iwi as mātauranga Māori or from the local or regional council?

    Acknowledgement: Makomako and raurēkau, Te Kawa Robb; kūmarahou, Jamie Watson; koromiko, Alfred Lex. All released under CC BY-NC 2.0. Compilation © Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research

    Deciding on action

    This involves taking what we’ve learned and considering what we will do with the information and exploring alternatives. It is an ideal way to engage in cross-curricular learning – specifically the social science strands Place and Environment and Continuity and Change.

    There is real potential to create opportunities for students to develop interviewing skills and co-operative skills, determine budgets, be creative and innovative, create technical plans and take action to become agents of change.

    Deciding on action can take different forms. It can involve plans to initiate a local repo restoration project or join in with a community group. Alternatively, it can involve raising awareness of repo as significant ecosystems that need our protection.

    Kapu tī 101 – cuppa teas and cross-cultural conversations (pages 13–22) in Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland has excellent information regarding engagement with tangata whenua.


    Questions to consider

    • Who uses or manages the repo that we’d like to restore?
    • Who do we need to involve?
    • Who do we need to consult before making decisions?
    • Are there tikanga or special customary traditions we need to follow?
    • What is our timeframe?
    • Is this a one-off action or do we need to plan for ongoing/future action?
    • What skills will we need?
    • If we are monitoring repo, what processes, methodologies or protocols do we need to follow to ensure that our actions provide quality data?
    • Who are the people who can help us with monitoring/restoration processes or protocols?
    • How will we store or analyse any data we collect?
    • Will the project require funding or other resources?
    • How can we obtain funding/resources?
    • How will our actions lead to the change we are seeking?

    Acknowledgement: Researcher Yvonne Taura in wetland, © Yvonne Taura. Sourced from Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland.

    Empowering action

    This enables students to participate and contribute with science in an authentic context. It helps them develop science capital – science knowledge, attitudes, skills and experiences. It also provides students with the opportunity to see themselves in science.

    Taking action enables students to feel empowered and able to make a difference. Taking action is different to participating in activities, as action leads to a result/change/impact as well as learning.

    Action can take the form of communicating the information students have gathered during this inquiry learning experience. Communicating information is an effective means to engage with the community and to potentially get others involved with ongoing or future action. It also provides cross-curricular opportunities in speaking, writing and presenting.


    Questions to consider

    • Are there safety considerations we need to consider?
    • Who do we need to inform about our work before we begin?
    • Do we have the resources we need to begin?
    • Are we familiar with the protocols and/or tools we will be using?
    • What tikanga or other customary practices do we need to follow before beginning or during our project?
    • Where can we go if we have questions while carrying out the project?
    • How are we working as scientists?
    • How are we working as kaitiaki?
    • How will we record our actions and progress during and after the project?
    • When presenting information about the action we are taking, who is our audience?
    • What is the most effective way to get information about our mahi to our audience?
    • Is there a way that individuals or whānau outside of school can undertake similar action?
    • How can we support them to do this?

    Community lake restoration, © Rawhitiroa Photography

    Reflection and evaluation

    Developing students’ skills around reflection and critical evaluation are vital to building resilience. Not every prediction, idea or action will be effective, so building this aspect regularly into the inquiry learning and action cycle is important. Of course, reflecting on what went well and celebrating effective action is just as important.

    It is vital to scaffold the development of skilled reflection. Begin by creating a class vocabulary of words and meanings for student use – include both content vocabulary and key te ao Māori concepts. Encourage students to work peer to peer and individually on if/how the actions met their prediction or vision, what went well, what they might do differently and what their next steps might be.

    Evaluation can be formal or informal. Formal evaluation could include pre-assessment and post-assessment to ascertain changes in science knowledge, te ao and mātauranga Māori concepts, content vocabulary or understanding of the nature of science. Alternatively, students can evaluate the effectiveness of the planning and action and whether it had the desired impact on the issue. Students can also self-evaluate their learning, individual efforts and/or change in attitude or perspective.


    • Pūtātara – supports schools and teachers to create learning opportunities that expand learners’ understanding of complex issues and take action for change
    • Education for sustainability – tools and resources

    Questions to consider

    • What do we think/how do we feel about the issue now?
    • Have our attitudes changed?
    • Have the attitudes of people around us changed?
    • Did our actions meet our vision?
    • What have we learned?
    • What went well?
    • What could we change?
    • How can we monitor the effectiveness of our actions?
    • What should our next steps be?
    • Are there new or continuing actions we can take as a result of this project?

    Waimea Inlet, © Kathryn Brownlie. Sourced from Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland.


    Thank you to the editors and contributors of Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland for permission and support to adapt this publication, and funding from Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and MBIE’s Unlocking Curious Minds initiative.

    Rights: Crown Copyright

    The Voice of the Wetlands

    The handbook Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland forms the basis of the collection of resources funded by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and MBIE’s Unlocking Curious Minds initiative.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato Published 19 November 2020 Size: 2.6 MB Referencing Hub media
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