Ara Mai He Tetekura: Māori Knowledge Systems That Enable Ecological and Sociolinguistic Survival in Aotearoa

Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter offers an in-depth exploration of Māori systems of knowledge, outlining an ecological literacy grounded in a deep interconnectedness to land, rivers, and other geographical features made available to children through their integral engagement with whenua (land) and whānau (extended family). This ecoliteracy was symbiotically emergent in relation with the cohabitants of these places, generating a mutually beneficial biocultural diversity. This biocultural diversity, that is, the Māori language, their lands, and the biodiversity that previously thrived upon these, has all been threatened by the onslaught of colonization, of which the ultimate result is monocultures of the mind and of the land. The complexity of Māori onto-epistemologies, their belief and knowledge systems, is illustrated with an explanation of how their complex navigation systems enabled their settlement of Aotearoa and ongoing navigation around their own islands, as well as between those of the South Pacific. These knowledges are passed on intergenerationally through children’s participation in biocultural practices such as sustainable mutton-birding. Tribal sayings serve as detailed identity markers and also preserve wisdom that is thus transmitted to young children. Finally, some key Māori values that relate to biocultural sustainability are explained, along with some examples of their application within early childhood care and education settings.


Biocultural sustainability Ecocultural literacy Māori Indigenous Early childhood 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victoria University of Wellington/Te Whare Wānanga o te Ūpoko o te IkaWellingtonNew Zealand

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marianne Logan
    • 1
  • Helen Widdop Quinton
    • 2
  1. 1.Southern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia
  2. 2.Victoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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