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Rights: University of Waikato
Published 28 June 2018 Referencing Hub media
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Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti Principal Tiahuia Kawe-Small discusses the challenge faced by the school community regarding the need to kill moths to create reference collections. Scientist Dr Barbara Anderson explains the importance of reference collections from a scientific point of view. Watch the video to discover the protocol the team developed to balance the needs of tikanga and science.

Transcript

TIAHUIA KAWE-SMALL

My cultural lens, which is a Māori lens, placed over science has been interesting. We’ve had some cultural clashes in terms of Western ideology and science and how we teach our tamariki about kaitiakitanga. Everything in the world has a mauri, it has a life force, and therefore we should respect that. And with the science, it was a tikanga challenge when we had to euthanise the moths. We’re supposed to be cherishing these creatures in our school environment, and now we have to think about putting them to sleep. And this was a challenge for myself and my team of teachers and also for the students, so much so we had one student, which was quite profound, “Why do we have to kill them?” 

DR BARBARA ANDERSON

It was like his second week at school – and so this is this little 5-year-old kid – and we’re sitting in the circle and, you know, at the end of every discussion, we say, “Any questions?” And Te Apanui, 5 years old, says, “Why do we need to kill them?”

We ask the questions some time back when we first start being a scientist but then we kind of just keep going. And it’s good sometimes to pause and think, “OK, so why am I actually killing these moths? Do I need to do this? What’s my reasoning?” And yet this little group of kids, they were saying, “No, we don’t want to kill them.” 

And these are the moths that we are going to use for the experiment. We are going to say a quick thank you to the moths that we have taken from the trap. Anyone who wants to say thank you, now is the time to say thank you to the moths.

TIAHUIA KAWE-SMALL

That slowed the project until we could all as a whānau – students, teachers and the wider whānau – have a conversation about how that could happen.

DR BARBARA ANDERSON

One of the reasons that it’s really important to sacrifice them is in order to make a reference collection because it makes identification easier. From the science point of view, reference collections and museum collections are really important because they are a bank of information that is curated, and it’s kept safe for future generations.

TIAHUIA KAWE-SMALL

The students came up with, well, we could just look at them and identify them as best we can, or we could take a photo of them and put them in the cloud and then see if we can identify them through that means instead of creating a collection. Or if we decided to create a collection, which means we have to put the moths to sleep, which was the term that they preferred, then we wouldn’t take a whole lot of the same whānau, the same species. We would maybe say two would be enough for us to identify and use in science. So I thought that was – that’s pretty deep thinking, that’s pretty good for students that are trying to find a way forward. They want to be the scientists and use this equipment and gain these skills, but they want to minimise that impact on their cultural beliefs as much as possible.

DR BARBARA ANDERSON

So the solution to this was to take that on board and take that learning into the project. And so we’ve developed a protocol that we’re all comfortable with – from the science point of view, from the kura point of view and from the Kāi Tahu point of view and also from the Orokonui Ecosanctuary point of view. Whaea Tiahuia has made a nice karakia, which we say beforehand. 

LILY

We do a karakia, which is kind of like we’re thanking them for sacrificing their lives.

DR BARBARA ANDERSON

And then we take the moths and we euthanise them, and the best way of doing that is by putting them in the freezer, and they get really cold and they go to sleep and then they don’t wake up.

TIAHUIA KAWE-SMALL

Pao is an important element of appreciation in tikanga Māori. 

The pao for the pepe tuna was to give thanks to Tāne Mahuta o Rēhua for gifting them to the Earth, and we have just now used them for our science and we’ll respect them. So the students use the pao to acknowledge the higher sources who’ve gifted these pepe to us to learn from and to be respectful of so that we can continue on with kaitiakitanga and the sustainability across all the elements that we’re learning here at kura. It’s part of our tikanga.

Acknowledgements
Tiahuia Kawe-Small
Dr Barbara Anderson
Dr Robert Hoare
The tamariki of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti
Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research