Create opportunities for students to become curious about the world around them. In this context, water is the focus. Encourage questioning, for example:
- Why is the river water here different to the water downstream?
- Why could my koro swim in the stream when he was young but we can’t?
- What is water quality and how does it impact us?
There may be local news articles or stories that you can utilise for engagement. Draw on community stories of how it used to be – from local marae or retirement villages – and explore changes over time.
- Water quality – factors and issues – article
- Our use of water – impacts on water quality – interactive
- Land use – impacts on waterways – interactive
- Observation and science – article
- Discussion Cube Prompts – PDF
Questions to consider
- Have our local waterways always been like they are today?
- Why?/Why not?
- What are the issues affecting water?
- How do these issues affect us and others?
- Are we concerned about what we are discovering and understanding?
- Why is this issue important to us?
- What do we already know about this issue?
- What can we predict about the future of our water?
- What is our vision for the future of our water?
The one place that I like to start with students, in looking at water, is asking them if they can think of any life that exists without water. And the answer’s no. We can’t survive. No other animals, no other living thing will survive without water. It’s everything. Without water, there is no life.
Water for my iwi – people – is very important, because water is life in its all entirety. And we all have a responsibility to look after our water, in our rivers, in the artesian bores that we bore for water from Papatūānuku and also what we get from the heaven.
Whether it comes from the sky, whether we’re pumping it around our farm, whether we’ve got it going through our troughs. Without it, we cannot run our operation at all. Also, to our business, water‘s important because we need to be trustworthy with our uses of it, and we need to be able to present ourselves to the world as using clean water and following best practice too.
Our business is a fourth-generation family business, and in order for us to be here for another four generations, we want to do the right thing, and our customers obviously expect it. It’s about being sustainable for the long term, and certainly things like clear water, healthy soil – that’s all critical really for us as a business.
It’s just a passion that we have, you know. Sandra and I both feel that it’s something in the land. We started off with nothing here – a 100 acre farm – and created what we’ve got today, and we love the land and we want to see it better. I know that sounds such a cliché, but it’s so true. We just want to leave it better than it was.
One of the common drivers that we find from people is that everyone wants to have clean water for their future generations.
It’s important for people to understand factors that affect water quality because everything you do can have an impact on water quality. People need to really think about their water usage – that is how long your shower is or if you have a bath through to what laundry powder do you put in your washing machine, because that discharges to our waterways. Also things individuals do, such as washing your car. If you wash your car on your lawn, the detergent will soak through to the soil, rather than if you wash it on your driveway and it runs out to our stormwater.
So it’s really important for people to realise that all the stormwater drains you see along the road and outside your property, these all lead into streams and then into large rivers and then into oceans. So if you ever tip anything down a drain, you’ve got to realise that that isn’t treated, and it does impact on our waterways.
It’s quite complex, and so an understanding of how terrestrial ecosystems and the stream ecosystems work together and the connectedness of all of that is absolutely important for people to understand so they can take appropriate action to mitigate some of those problems.
Our ancestors addressed this time and time and time again to our people. What we’ve got to do now is to encourage it.
We are trying to educate our people in the uses of the water on our farms, in the gardens and in our orchards that we have and also in our marae. So they’re starting wānangas now to bring them up to speed in knowing about the importance of the water.
We are kaitiaki of the wai, the whenua and Tangaroa.
Individuals have a responsibility, and you can make good choices to help impact our water quality.
Dr Eloise Ryan
Waikato Regional Council
Hannah, Jess and Sam, Waikato Diocesan School for Girls
Reverend Haki Wirihana
Ngāti Hauā Mahi Trust
Sandra and Rod McKinnon
AS Wilcox & Sons Limited
The Fairfield Project
Car washing footage, Sandy Austin. Released under CC BY 3.0
This video has been developed in partnership with the Waikato Regional Council as part of the Rivers and Us resource.