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  • Lakes380 – Our lakes’ health: past, present, future is the largest scientific study ever undertaken on lakes in Aotearoa New Zealand. The programme, jointly led by GNS Science and Cawthron Institute, draws upon both scientific and mātauranga Māori knowledge systems to determine the current and historical health of hundreds of lakes across the country. An understanding of how and why lakes have changed over the past 1,000 years will help ecologists understand future changes and inform protection and restoration efforts.

    The Hub’s Lakes380 resources provide rich, real-life contexts for developing students’ thinking, visioning and problem-solving skills and an array of science capabilities and competencies. The combination of environmental monitoring with social and cultural components adds a depth of interest and value for educators and ākonga to pursue local and personal cross-curricular learning.

    Key concepts and curriculum links

    The breadth of the Lakes380 research enables ākonga to explore key concepts in science, mātauranga Māori and social sciences.

    Science concepts could include:

    • understanding how lake origins have created the incredible diversity of lakes in Aotearoa
    • understanding ecosystem connections and impacts caused by land-use change
    • exploring how environmental monitoring techniques are used to gather and interpret data and how the data is used to inform action.

    Mātauranga Māori concepts could include:

    • exploring relationships and connections between tangata whenua, their roto and whenua and the value of whakawhanaungatanga between iwi and research teams
    • understanding how extensive, long-held and ongoing mātauranga is able to inform and guide current and future activities.

    Social science concepts could include:

    • understanding how people make decisions about access to and use of resources
    • exploring how we view and use places differently
    • exploring changes to societal thinking about these resources and places.

    The resources support science learning in the Nature of Science, Planet Earth and Beyond and Living World strands and social science learning in the Place and Environment and Continuity and Change strands. The activities provide authentic experience with the science capabilities – especially interpreting data and representations. (Lakes380 – writers’ insight explores the changing nature of science and delves more deeply into the collaboration and shared philosophies that underpin the Lakes380 resource suite.)

    Opportunities for local curriculum

    Local curriculum encourages educators to be responsive to local interests, issues, identity and culture. For Māori, tribal identity is linked to freshwater – each water body has its own mauri. Freshwater systems are also highly valued for recreational, environmental and economic reasons. Although lakes are abundant in Aotearoa, many are in remote locations or out of sight on private land.

    Learning about a local lake provides opportunities to build knowledge of:

    • local mātauranga and concepts including mauri, wairua, wai ora, ki uta ki tai, whakapapa and mahinga kai
    • science concepts such as lake origins, catchment areas and water quality
    • social science concepts such as relevant issues, values and the influences of people and place.

    Resources to support learning

    Following is a list of Lakes380 resources. They are grouped by themes – however, the principles/concepts mentioned above are interwoven among each of the resources.

    Mātauranga Māori

    Science, social sciences and local curriculum

    Related content

    Ever wondered how we create content for the Hub? This news article provides insights into the creative ways the Lakes380 team approached science communication and outreach. And this writers’ insight explores how Lakes380 reflects the ever-changing nature of science.

    The Hub's eDNA collection has background information and activities to help students learn more about DNA collection and processing, and how eDNA helps scientists build a better picture of the biodiversity and resilience of an ecosystem.

    Tōku awa koiora – introduction curates resources about the Waikato River ecosystems and the iwi, researchers and scientists who are working to restore and protect the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River.

    Smart Water – a context for learning curates resources that foster a greater understanding and appreciation of water from source to tap. Smart Water is a partnership between Hamilton City Council, Waipā District Council and Waitomo District Council.

    Repo (wetlands) – a context for learning explores wetland connections and wetland restoration using te ao Māori approaches.

    Rivers and Us – a context for learning curates numerous resources regarding freshwater ecosystems as well as the key aspects of environmental education that underpin local stream monitoring and subsequent action.

    Explore the range of resources in our Freshwater – lakes and rivers Pinterest Board.

    Useful links

    Visit the Lakes380 website to find information about:

    Visit Lake Stories Aotearoa New Zealand for videos and audio recordings that share cultural knowledge and ecological research about our lakes.

    Visit He reo nō te puehu – A voice from the dust to experience Lake Moawhitu as it once was, as it is now and what it has the potential to become.


    This resource has been developed in collaboration with Lakes380 – Our lakes’ health: past, present, future (C05X1707), Cawthron Institute and GNS Science.

      Published 9 February 2023, Updated 13 March 2023 Referencing Hub articles
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