South Auckland students now have the chance to understand how stars have played a major role in steering ancient Maori towards the future.
In collaboration with Stardome Observatory and Planetarium, the Mangere Mountain Education Centre (MMEC) has rolled out a new programme called Oral Histories – Myths and Legends.
MMEC is working to enhance their out of classroom learning education programmes that are offered to local schools.
Manurewa’s Clendon Park school has seen three groups comprising a total of 150 students go through the programme.
READ MORE: *Students learn how to farm, cook at Mangere Mountain *Taranaki student on course for a career among the stars *Kiwi scientists tackle GPS accuracy from Earth wobbles
The programme comprises a guided walk of Mangere Mountain and a series of workshops delivered by MMEC staff and the Stardome outreach educator team.
As part of the walk, students will learn the oral history of the land, sea, and its people – from the formation of Te Pane o Mataoho, the journey of Hape and Kaiwhare, the naming of the local area Nga Hau Mangere and the story of the shell pathways Te Ara Pueru.
Maori and Greek creation myths about how the earth and the sky were said to have formed in both cultures will be relayed.
It will also delve into the education of the constellations of Matariki, or the Pleiades, and Maui’s fish hook, or Scorpius, te reo Maori, cultural beliefs, and local Maori stories.
Stardome uses iPads to run an application called Star Walk 2. It enables a view of the stars in the day and allows children to see how constellations relate to the tales shared on their walk.
MMEC chief executive Simon Kozak says: “The students get a real sense of how our ancestors used their knowledge of the seasons and movements of the sun and other planets to help cultivate their land, and then how they used the stars and visible constellations to illustrate these oral traditions.”
Clendon Park teacher Renee Alicia says the students “were engaged with the various myths and legends that were shared, and this was evident in their questions and peer discussions”.
“As a teacher, I also learnt a few new legends about Mangere. Can’t wait to use some of the knowledge to build on our topic inquiry for the remainder of the term,” she says.
While this initiative is a first for MMEC, it marks the beginning of a series of initiatives with other Auckland Council facilities like the Museum of Transport and Technology.