Summary of Tūhura Ahuahu - cultural and ecological stories from Great Mercury Island | NZ teachers, enrol in this LEARNZ virtual field trip

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Summary Page: Tūhura Ahuahu - cultural and ecological stories from Great Mercury Island
Term 3 starting 30 July 2019.



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Our understanding of the settlement of Aotearoa New Zealand is developing and becoming clearer as archaeological sites unveil their secrets. Nowhere is this more evident than on Ahuahu Great Mercury Island. Recent excavations are telling new stories of ancestors of modern Maori; their origins in Polynesia, their voyages, lives and lore.

In recent times Ahuahu has become a place of exciting new discoveries:

  • How did people from the tropics adapt to life in colder climates?
  • How could people create a sustainable living from a small island environment?
  • How did the island respond to a human presence and the plants and animals they brought with them?
  • How can we bring environments like Ahuahu back to what they used to be like?

On this field trip you will journey back in time to hear from descendants of early Māori, from archaeologists who will explain what they do in a dig, and from conservation workers restoring habitats and species.

As we acknowledge 250 years since the first onshore meetings between Māori and Europeans, exploring places such as Ahuahu Great Mercury Island will help us better understand our history and our country.

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

  • Early human settlement in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Island sanctuaries
  • Ahuahu Great Mercury Island
  • Ngāti Hei - Tangata Whenua
  • Long-term ecological restoration projects
  • Native species recovery
  • Predator Control and Pest Free New Zealand 2050
  • Tuia 250 first Encounters
  • The effects of new technology

During this field trip you will:

  • follow tweets from Andrew, the LEARNZ field trip teacher
  • Explore Ahuahu Great Mercury Island
  • Visit and interpret archaeological sites including middens
  • Stand on the spot in Mercury Bay where Iwi and Cook met in 1769
  • Get up close to native wildlife and find out how they are inter-connected
  • Count wildlife to see how their numbers are increasing
  • Interpret wildlife data collected over many years for Ahuahu

After the field trip, challenge yourself to:

  • Visit a wildlife sanctuary near you
  • Find out about another archeological site
  • Find out what sea level rise is doing to archaeological sites
  • Think what arriving on Ahuahu from a remote Polynesian island might have been like
  • Donate money or volunteer to help at a wildlife sanctuary
  • Read a modern book about New Zealand's history
  • Watch a recent documentary about New Zealand's history
  • Explore your own whakapapa/ancestry
  • Explore study and career options in Aotearoa archaeology and history

Where you will go

You will go to Mercury Bay, a place of historic significance for Aotearoa New Zealand. This was Captain James Cook's second landing of four on our soil during his first Pacific voyage in 1769. People had already settled there, so this is a special place that saw some of the earliest interactions between Māori and Europeans.

Your journey includes special permission to visit Ahuahu - Great Mercury Island, where a long-term ecological restoration project is bearing fruit. It has archaeological sites that are under examination by Ngati Hei, Auckland University and Auckland Museum.

Teacher comments about related field trips

This field trip inspired and educated my class about how NZ birds have been affected by introduced species and has motivated them to learn more. The extensive use of Māori kupu and links to traditions etc was an important element, and one my students found interesting. Lisa Hayde, St Pius X Catholic School (2018 Kōkako) field trip)

The students have continued, even after the end of the field trip, to explore their own passions around mapping, e.g. mapping their own whanau story. My Maori students showed full engagement in this trip, especially when listening to the oral stories of the local area. LEARNZ definitely supports my teaching, by providing a wide variety of resources and experts to support the class inquiry learning. Patricia Molloy from Turitea School (2018 Map my waahi field trip)

This particular topic had all my students absolutely hooked - the 95% Maori students in my class felt it was about them and supported their culture and their own learning. I love the Inquiry focus, the research skills LEARNZ offers, the range of learning styles - with background information, diaries, audio conferences, images. All students are catered for. Diane Henderson from Ohaeawai School (2014 He Hokinga Whakaaro Virtual field trip)

Go to more comments from teachers.

Learning Areas/Levels

Science: Living World 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 2-5

  • Vision, Values, Key Competencies, Principles, Literacy and Numeracy

    By their nature, LEARNZ field trips integrate with the higher levels of the NZ Curriculum. Participation encourages development of the Key Competencies around Thinking, Using language, symbols and text, Managing self, Relating to others, and Participating and contributing. Teachers indicate this in testimonials. LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Literacy, with opportunities to develop skills in Listening, Reading and Viewing and in Speaking, Writing and Presenting. More about LEARNZ as a Reading Resource and student writing opportunities with LEARNZ. Select LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Numeracy, encouraging the development of skills in Number and Algebra, in Statistics and in Geometry and Measurement.

  • ESOL

    As well as providing visual and audio material and access to real experiences, LEARNZ links well to ESOL Principles, especially Principle 3 Maintain and make explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners. How can I make the lesson comprehensible to all students? How can I plan the learning tasks so that all the students are actively involved? Do my students understand the learning outcomes? Principle 4 Begin with context embedded tasks which make the abstract concrete. How can I put these concepts into a concrete context?

  • What's in a Field Trip

    Every LEARNZ field trip has its own newly-built, self-contained web site ready for integration into your teaching and learning programme. Teacher Support has curriculum integration, resources, newsletters, support and evaluation. Prepare Students provides opportunities for student inquiry on two sets of image-rich background pages at reading levels 2 years apart, (students can click to have those pages read to them out loud), online interactive and other activities to check students' understanding, and a glossary. During the field trip there are live tweets on twitter, and daily additions such as a diary, video clips, profiles of the experts (ideal careers education), a photo gallery, and ambassador (mascot) page updates. Live web conferences via Adobe Connect enable teachers to managed students putting prepared and spontaneous questions to experts (recorded for replay). After the field trip, teachers are encouraged to take further action with their class in the community or to go on a related field trip, or to invite a guest speaker, or to present what they have learned to a wider group. Teachers also fill in an online evaluation (more about reflective practice), the field trip prize winner is drawn, and the final newsletter is sent. Content remains online for continued use.

  • How teachers use LEARNZ

    View teacher comments in testimonials and in the LEARNZ Group on the VLN. There are two main ways teachers use a LEARNZ virtual field trip with their class. Firstly, a LEARNZ field trip is ideally an immersive, engaging, synchronous, online learning experience with real-time components and a myriad of opportunities for teachers and students. Secondly, and less ideal but still effective, a LEARNZ field trip can be used as a retrospective experience where the resources such as photos, text, activities, videos and audioconferences/web conferences comprise a unique collection of authentic, contemporary New Zealand teaching and learning material.

  • What Now

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Andrew the LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher.

Meet Andrew, your LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher

Inquiry Topics: archaeology, celebrations, changing values, conservation, culture, cultures, customs, future focus, human impacts, identity, Māori, maps, migration, New Zealand History, people in the past, perspectives, science, scientific research, sustainability, traditions, values, viewpoints, voyaging

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