The 2019 sestercentennial commemoration of Captain Cook's first visit, called Tuia 250 First Encounters, is a time to reflect on the skills and knowledge of the people who discovered and founded Aotearoa New Zealand.

Matariki was originally a solar celebration that marked the solstice and let people commemorate dead and think about new year. Matariki means the eye of the Ariki, as the small star cluster rises just before dawn in early June from the same point that the Sun rises on the north-eastern horizon. This heralds the Māori New Year: a perfect time for our journey of discovery to explore the significance of Matariki; to appreciate the importance of stars in early navigation; to paddle a traditional waka; to explore Cook's landing sites; to use 18th century navigation and charting techniques and to see how they compare with modern marine navigation and charting.

This LEARNZ field trip will focus on the stories behind two great navigators:

  • It is generally believed the great Polynesian navigator Kupe arrived here from Hawaiki over 700 years ago. Tohunga tarai waka (navigators) like Kupe were accompanied by tohunga kōkōrangi (expert astronomers). They used a series of complex techniques that involved zenith stars, pairs of stars, star compasses plus constant observations of their environment such as waves, birds and winds and to help them navigate across the vast Pacific ocean.
  • On the 6 October 1769 (250 years ago), Captain Cook using the latest technology including the sextant and chronometer, sailed the Endeavour into Poverty Bay. Two days later he became the first European to set foot on Aotearoa New Zealand.

To prepare for this field trip, LEARNZ content will support inquiry into:

  • Discovery of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • The star cluster Matariki
  • Polynesian navigation
  • 18th century navigation and charting
  • Why maps matter? Location based information and technology
  • How GIS and GPS work
  • Using GIS to make smart online maps for everyone
  • Future Focus - New careers
  • The effects of new technology

During this field trip you will:

  • Follow Shelley's tweets on twitter
  • Explore the heavens to locate Matariki
  • Paddle a waka
  • Navigate by observing your environment
  • Sail to Ship's Cove in the Marlborough sounds
  • Use a sextant and chronometer to calculate your location
  • Use 21st century navigation techniques on board a modern ship

Learning Areas/Levels

Mathematics and Statistics: Number and Algebra Levels 3-4, Geometry and Measurement Levels 2-4, Statistics Levels 2-4;
Science: Earth and Space Science Levels 2-4, Planet Earth and Beyond Levels 2-4, Nature of Science Levels 2-4;
Social Studies: Continuity and Change Levels 2-4, Place and Environment Levels 2-4, Identity, Culture and Organisation Levels 2-4;
Technology: Levels 2-4

For more information about the field trip and to register, please visit:

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