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Te Puke High School - Kirsty Buchanan

2022 | Sustainability and Resource Use Efficiency in Horticultural Production

Name: Kirsty Buchanan
School: Te Puke High School
HostInstitute of Plant and Food Research
Region: Bay of Plenty

Te Puke High School has recognised a need for ongoing, sustainable professional learning development that responds to clearly identified evidence around specific educational needs, particularly for their Māori learners which account for 36% of their roll. With continued development and review of their junior science (year 9 and 10) programmes with respect to contextualising the learning programme to incorporate the Nature of Science and Mātauranga Pūtaiao they want to improve their ākonga’s engagement and scientific citizenship. They want their ākonga, especially Māori and Pasifika students, to be able to experience success in Science and relate to the importance of Mātauranga Pūtaiao in their lives.

Coming from a background in physiotherapy before 12 years of teaching secondary school science, Kirsty really appreciates the opportunity to reconnect with some “real-life science and scientists” within a local horticultural context to further explore the Nature of Science and Mātauranga Pūtaiao. Having taught across all science subjects, she also takes a strong interest in ākonga being able to see themselves as scientists and fostering their sense of exploration through STEAM.

As one of two participant teachers being hosted at Food and Plant Research, Kirsty will be working alongside scientific and technical staff at the Te Puke site with connected projects focused on growing horticultural crops efficiently and sustainably.  This work covers indoor growing systems with optimised light and nutrition through to whole orchard production systems with novel nutrition programmes and alternative ways of growing plants to maximise resource capture. This will expose Kirsty to a number of different scientists and technicians in the team covering different aspects of on-orchard vine management (pruning, nutrition, pest management) through to more fundamental research on plant transport systems as well as plant breeding, entomology and pathology.

Although Kirsty will be exposed to multiple projects across different crops, one of the key projects for the team is the selection of new kiwifruit genotypes to overcome a number of current issues with current cultivars. The project includes plant management and pruning to get the best from the new genotypes and understanding flower and crop production to allow plants to grow in marginal areas and reduce inputs without impacting on productivity.

Overall, this programme will involve Kirsty in field and laboratory investigation to extend her overall understanding of how science underpins horticultural exports and reinforce the need for science in our communities.  It will also assist Kirsty in gaining a better understanding of the Nature of Science within a horticulture and research based workplace.