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Desettling science through partnership

Sara Tolbert, Helen Mora, Matiu Ratima, and Mel Tainui

In this article we share how developing and following tikanga was integral to our enactment of mana ōrite in the local curriculum as we (tangata whenua and tangata Tiriti) collaborated on a Year 7 science unit: Plants, Place, and People. Our initial thinking as we approached this unit had been to look for connections between mātauranga Māori, the New Zealand science curriculum, and a prior unit on plants that the lead teacher partner had developed. However, through ongoing conversations with tangata whenua, mana whenua, and kaiako Māori at the outset and throughout this work, we concluded that this approach was misguided. Instead, we recognised that for this unit on plants, it made more sense to start with mātauranga Māori o te ao tūroa—Māori knowledge about the natural world—and then use mātauranga Māori and science as lenses for understanding plants, place, people, and the relationships between them. Findings reveal how this mōhiotanga-enhancing approach created space for students in a superdiverse classroom to share their own narratives and experiences, in a process of “desettling” expectations in science.

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