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Positive learning experiences through cultural inclusion

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

In Aotearoa New Zealand's multicultural context, we need to make science as inclusive as possible to engage the next generation of tamariki. Cultural inclusion creates an environment of mutual respect that underpins authentic relationships between communities. Students of all ages thrive when their language, culture and identity is woven into their learning.

Recent interviews with secondary school Māori and Pasifika students showed that they value teachers who they related to and supported them. Rangatahi should feel comfortable when bringing their own culture and worldview to a project and given the space to explore how they interact with science both inside the classroom and at home.

The recognition of indigenous languages and knowledge is paramount to the inclusion of indigenous students in STEM education. This year, Aotearoa celebrated the first public holiday that recognizes Te Ao Māori in the community. At school, this became an excellent opportunity to incorporate Mātauranga in the classroom.

Cultural inclusion in the classroom begins with a commitment to understanding rangatahi voices. Mana Ōrite is providing free resource toolkits to help bring Mana ōrite mō te mātauranga Māori - Equal status for mātauranga Māori into your classroom and kura. Additional resources to increase cultural inclusion and Mātauranga can be found on the NZASE and Science Learning Hub websites.

Below is a collection of kupu (taken from that can be used in different scientific fields. Have a go at using them in your classroom or organisation and see if it adds an added excitement to learning STEM at school. Remember, positive experiences in school lead to positive achievement later in life.

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