What is Mātauranga Māori

Mātauranga Māori is a modern term for the combined knowledge of Polynesian ancestors and the experiences of Māori living in the environment of Aotearoa. The term takes many forms, such as language (te reo), education (mātauranga), traditional environmental knowledge (taonga tuku iho, mātauranga o te taiao), traditional knowledge of cultural practice, such as healing and medicines (rongoā), fishing (hī ika) and cultivation (mahinga kai).


In a traditional sense, mātauranga Māori refers to the knowledge, comprehension or understanding of everything visible or invisible that exists within the universe.

How did mātauranga Māori develop?

Early Māori had a culture based on oral lore. Māori knowledge was passed on in this way from one generation to the next.

Early Māori culture was based on oral lore and had a justice system based on chiefs and tohunga (the knowledge experts). Such experts were chosen from an early age and educated within wānanga (learning institutions) to remember vast amounts of knowledge. The knowledge of the hapū (tribe) and iwi were entrusted to these experts, who would then pass their knowledge on to future experts. The way to memorise such a volume of complex material involved using a whakapapa (genealogical) framework. Whakapapa is used to explain genealogies and taxonomies, to create categories and families of flora and fauna and to describe environmental and life issues. The example below describes the whakapapa of different stones and their grouping:

From chaos sprang Papatūānuku, the Earth mother. Then Papa-matua-te-kore, the parentless, appeared. She mated with Rangi-a-Tamaku. Their firstborn was Putoto, whose sister was Parawhenuamea, the personified form of water. Putoto took his sister, Parawhenuamea, to wife. She gave birth to Rakahore, who mated with Hinekuku, the clay maiden. Hinekuku gave birth to Tuamatua. Tuamatua was the guardian of the different stones and gravel found on sea coasts. The younger brother of Tuamatua, Whatuaho, typified greywacke and chert. Next came Papakura, the origin of volcanic stone…

Retaining understanding in this way has enabled Māori knowledge to be passed on from one generation to another. This body of knowledge arises from the experiences of Māori living in the environment of Aotearoa. Many people have realised that mātauranga Māori contains potentially useful knowledge, for example, about utilising and preserving the environment.

Twitter Challenge for the end of term

Give students a series of photographs and ask them to create the best “tweet” on the various topics.

Maximum of 140 characters. Use post it notes and post them on the classroom windows or on the whiteboard or somewhere to get other students thinking about geography.

You could do it around the theme of work you have been doing in class recently OR on some geography in the news topics that have come up over the term OR something you want them thinking about over the holiday break ….

I love doing this in the last few days of term – the students like it and they especially like doing things with hashtags



Geography class: Inside the ‘Covid Triangle’: a catastrophe years in the making

Click to read the article below and then answer the questions:

Inside the ‘Covid Triangle’: a catastrophe years in the making

  1. Where is the ‘covid triangle’ and why were the odds stacked against the area when the disease struck? (Include reference to rates of child poverty, the informal economy, multigenerational households)
  2. Explain how government policies since the 1980s have contributed to economic and health inequalities.
  3. Explain how racial discrimination has contributed to higher covid cases in parts of London.


Missed the meeting discussing the RAS (last Thursday)?

Check out the discussion on this page:

You may also be keen to get these books for your staff Geography libraries:

Beautiful on the traditional Māori view of the natural world
Wisdom from the Māori world

May also be worth a read on migration to the cities in Aotearoa New Zealand

identifying critical issues relating to the whenua
Maori wisdom for a contented life lived in harmony with our planet. 

Join us on THursday afternoon to discuss the Review of the Achievement standards – Geography

You are all invited to our first AGTA event of the year. We will be discussing the new geography standards and collecting feedback to send to Ministry of Education.

VENUE:                St Cuthbert’s College (Clouston Hall)

                              122 Market Road, Epsom, Auckland 1051

PARKING:          In the underground carpark or on Market Rd

TIME:                    Thursday 25 March – 4:30 – 6:00pm

COST:                  Free (snacks provided)

Please register here asap.

Cluster meeting

You are all invited to our first AGTA event of the year on Thursday 25th March 2021.

We will be discussing the new geography standards and collecting feedback to send to Ministry of Education.

DATE: Thursday 25th March 2021

VENUE:             St Cuthbert’s College (Clouston Hall)

                              122 Market Road, Epsom, Auckland 1051

PARKING:          In the underground carpark or on Market Rd

TIME:                    4:30 – 6:00pm

COST:                  Free (snacks provided)

Please register here before Friday 19th March  

The Geography in Anything

The Geography in Anything

This is a great introduction or filler activity  – could select geography facts/trivia to explore that link to a topic you are studying. Uses the process from the Crash Course Geography video “What is geography?” to uncover the real geography behind the ‘pub quiz’ trivia type geo students think they are going to be learning. I have linked the key geographic concepts into the task  and used this with my Year 12s at the start of the year…

Find the slides HERE

This looks like a great activity Eleanor – thank you for sharing.

This is an excellent video clip about a sustainable city proposal in Saudia Arabia

Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, has unveiled plans for a 100-mile belt of zero-energy walkable communities for a million people.

The linear city will have no cars or streets, with all residents living within a five-minute walk of essential facilities.

Bin Salman announced plans for The Line in a video where he described it as a “civilisational revolution that puts humans first.”

Interested? Read more here

Geography in the News

Do you have a wall in your classroom with geography news on it? Or have geography news electronically on your school intranet?

Students love it when they can see the relevance of what they are doing in class with what is happening in the real world.

Just yesterday i saw that the level one Geography students at Napier Girls High School were looking into how prepared their community is for a tsunami – so cool for the students to see Geography in Action as it were – collecting primary evidence essentially as they evacuated to higher ground.

Here are some articles about the Tsunami alert:

People urged to move to higher ground

An Earthquake swarm

Scientists prevented from travelling to the Kermadecs because of COVID-19 – a blessing in disguise

2021 Kermadec Earthquakes

Kiri Allen – Emergency Management Minister speaks about the tsunami alert

Collecting vegetation data at Tongariro? Species data recognition charts and data collection sheets

Where would you find these plants? Does the vegetation in this region follow a pattern?

Species recognition chart

Species chart 2

Data collection sheet

Species and data collection charts 1


These are sufficient for the data collection points that we go to, but are based off Darron Gedge’s Geography channel on YouTube. They are basic but do the trick.

I usually print these in A3 and laminate them, students use vivid to write of the remainder of their data collection information.

Thanks to Mallory O’Brien from Rangitoto College for these ideas.

Protecting kaimoana on Waiheke Island – a case study on kaitiakitanga

We used this article at the beginning of the year to explore Geography Concepts. ‘Sustainability’ is the obvious concept to apply but we also got the students to think about linking ‘perspectives’, ‘change’ and ‘environment’ to the story. It also provided an excellent platform to discuss ‘kaitiakitanga’.
There is a short video clip in this link that supports the story, especially the viewpoint of the local iwi Ngati Paoa.
Source: https://www.tourismwaiheke.co.nz/play/rahui/
Thank you to Gill Hanna at Avondale College for this cool resource.

Join the AGTA

Now is the time to renew your membership to the AGTA for 2021 (or join us!)

Follow this link to register your interest to join. Following this, you will be invoiced the rate for your membership. Once payment has been received and processed, you will be notified of your membership for 2021. Note that this can take a little time, as we are all full-time teachers like yourself.

Rates for 2021 are:

Auckland schools $45.00

Other schools $35.00

Individuals $35.00

Trainee teachers $15.00

Currently, all those who requested membership during 2020 continue to have active memberships. These will remain active until the committee decides a cutoff date for membership payments later this term. If you purchase a membership for 2021, your access to our site and resources will continue to remain active and you should notice no difference.

Any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at agtassociation@gmail.com

Do you want to get your students reading? Here is a fun way to do this.

Play the Sentence Hunt game.

Give students a piece of reading to do – here is one I have used in the past with Year 13s – I normally give them the reading for homework (the ones who read it are advantaged the next day when we play the game).


Then, on a powerpoint or google slides select a few words from the “reading” which the students are to find.

Divide the class into small groups and they can then find the words in the document. the first team to find the words says where the phrase is and I normally get them to sat something like – Line 3, paragraph 2.

It works really well at all sorts of different levels (Years 7-13) – and it is fun.

But, the best part is the students get involved in reading. (I find my students come up with all sorts of great strategies to ensure that they win!

Here is my example of phrases – i have used with the above article.

Historyoftourism sentence hunt answers


PS. Sometimes I give the teams bonus points such as:

In the style of spelling bee – spell ………


What do you think that this might mean for NZ in COVID times?? etc etc


Teaching ideas and resources for the Geography teachers of New Zealand