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Wāhanga Ako: Putaiao

"Nā Rangi tāua, nā Tū-ā-nuku e takoto nei Ko ahau tēnei, ko mea a mea"

Science knowledge is a product of human culture, and belongs to all cultures. Science is knowledge about the natural world and the place of humanity in that world. It involves testing ideas against sensory experience of the world; it is flexible, fallible knowledge, which is continually reviewed and updated.


Science knowledge is applied in developing the many types of technology in society. Science assists the Māori world to embrace the future. Linking together traditional and modern knowledge enables new knowledge bases to develop and be extended.


A critical faculty is facilitated by the inclusion of a Māori world view. The student is able to develop his/her own ‘baskets’ or viewpoints on knowledge, as a foundation for studying those of other cultural origins.

The Purpose of Learning Pūtaiao

The student will gain competence in the skills of research, experimentation, investigation and problem solving. It is nevertheless appropriate to remain vigilant concerning the end results of science in the world. The student will develop scientific literacy as well as physical, ethical and cognitive competence. Access to the highest professional levels in the world of science is an imperative, as is retaining respect for the natural environment and all its inhabitants. Sensitivity to the difficult issues of their world will encourage students to find ways in which these can be overcome.

The Structure of this Learning Area

The Pūtaiao curriculum comprises four strands and three general aspects of science.

The three generic characteristics or aspects of science are: ‘Science Investigations/Ngā Momo Tūhuratanga Pūtaiao’, ‘Science Literacy/Te Reo Matatini o te Pūtaiao’, and ‘Uses of Science/Te Whakamahinga o te Pūtaiao’. See the following page for explanations of these aspects.

Study of these scientific aspects is integrated into the topics in the three strands, ‘The Natural World/Te Ao Tūroa’, ‘The Physical World/Ō Ahupūngao’, and ‘The Material World/Ō Kawekawe’. There is a fourth strand, namely ‘Ngā Tautake Pūtaiao me ngā Kōrero-o- Mua/Philosophy and History of Science’. Explanations of these strands follow. See the diagram below, and ‘Science Aims/Ngā Whāinga Pūtaiao’ on the next page.

The Natural World

This is the largest strand. It includes all living things in the human, plant, animal, and other kingdoms. This strand is metaphorically associated with the majority of the traditional familial deities, which collectively represent a Māori system of organising and understanding the natural world and the relationships between all living things. It reminds us to respect the mauri of all things discovered, consumed, or used by humans. There are four sections in this strand: ‘The Organism/Te Rauropi’, ‘The Biological Environment/Te Taiao’, ‘Earth Science/Papa-tū-ā-nuku’, ‘Astronomy/Ranginui’.

The Physical World

This strand contains the principles of energy underlying the operation of the entire universe, in all dimensions. Tāwhirimatea in perpetual motion is guardian of this strand, which contains three parts: ‘Force and Motion/Te Tōpana me te Nekenga’, ‘Waves and Particles/Te Ngaru me te Ngotangota’, ‘Electricity and Magnetism/Te Hiko me te Autō’.

The Material World

This strand contains the building blocks of matter of which every object in the universe, from the earthworm to the stars, is constructed. Rūaumoko stands guard over this strand, which contains three parts: ‘Chemical Properties and Changes/Ngā Āhuatanga me ngā Panoni Matū’, ‘Chemistry and Society/Te Whakamahi Pūmatū’, ‘The Structure of Matter/Te Hanga Matū’.

Philosophy and History of Science

This strand provides opportunities to examine science as a system of knowledge, and encourages students to scrutinise how science knowledge applies to their own world. There are four whāinga paetae in total in this strand.

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