Regional | Seaweed

Local kura Māori come out on top at science and technology fair

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rāwhitiroa has beaten all competition to win the Central Northland Science and Technology Fair, a first for a kura Māori in the region.

Its students’ research concentrated on growing local seaweed species, a staple of the Kina’s diet and the win shows that kura Māori can compete with the much larger mainstream schools in science.

Science teacher Teina Well-Smith says he is absolutely stoked for his students.

“All Māori are scientists. Looking after the environment is a very Māori thing.”

“I’m extremely proud of the students because it’s the first time the school has gone to the competition. But it’s a new world for the school.”

The project was named Tai Timu, Tai Rimu and it looked at the correlation between the size of kina and the dwindling stocks of its food, local seaweed.

Undersized kina

Te Rāwhitiroa student Brooklyn Manga-Harris says the idea happened out of the blue following a trip to the sea.

“One day we went to get kina and saw that they were undersized, so we wanted to understand how to get them big.”

“We then talked to our teacher and started growing seaweed from there.”

The kura won three awards at the fair including the supreme award and Aoraki Mitchell from Ngāti Wai also picked up an award for his research on the invasive seaweed species Caulerpa.

Carlos Henare is really proud of what he and his fellow scientists achieved and says it could open up a whole new realm for Te Aho Matua students.

“This is the first time a kura kaupapa Māori has won the award in Whangārei.”

“Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll return to the kura as a science teacher.”