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Poukawa School - Mary Wise

2023 | Wai Connection.


Name: Mary Wise

School: Poukawa School

Placement programme: Wai Connection

Region: Hawkes Bay

Host: Hawkes Bay Environment Centre


Poukawa School, a Year 0-8 kura, holds the belief that initiating the science journey early for its youngest students is a genuine privilege. The school values the essence of science and recognises that children possess the ability to comprehend their world through observations and experiences. Poukawa stands in a remarkable position, blessed with an abundance of captivating local wetlands and lakes. With great anticipation, the school looks forward to Mary incorporating her newly acquired knowledge from the Science Teaching Leadership Programme to create a vibrant and immersive science curriculum that harnesses the potential of the extraordinary surroundings and community ties.

Mary is an experienced educator with over 15 years of involvement in the field of education, having taught various age groups both in New Zealand and internationally. As an enthusiastic and imaginative teacher, Mary believes in fostering authentic, real-world contexts for learning. She aims to expand her students' exposure to science and broaden their understanding of what encompasses 'science' so that they can perceive its presence in their everyday lives. Mary envisions the development of "citizen scientists" among her students, empowering them to actively assume the role of kaitiaki, or guardians, of the environment. She endeavours to forge stronger connections between the local community and her students, striving towards the development of an environmentally conscious and sustainable future.

Despite the setback caused by Cyclone Gabriel, Mary was fortunate to receive the support of The Royal Society Te Apārangi, which allowed her to continue her scientific endeavours in alternative settings. She had the opportunity to visit the Wai Connection project in Whangarei, where she participated in data collection on at-risk species and conducted water testing to assess the health of local waterways. Whilst in Whangarei, Mary also participated in the Experiencing Marine Reserve programme which aims to raise awareness and encourage action and support for marine conservation.

In addition to her scientific pursuits, Mary had an amazing chance to immerse herself in the vibrant culture of Te Ao Māori. During this time, she engaged with mātauranga Māori, which deepened her understanding of indigenous knowledge and its close relationship with the environment. It was a truly extraordinary learning opportunity, one that only comes once in a lifetime, and it provided her with unique insights into the customs, protocols, and strong sense of community that are integral to the Māori culture.

These diverse experiences, ranging from scientific exploration to cultural immersion, made Mary's journey both intellectually stimulating and personally rewarding. The combination of scientific discovery, environmental stewardship, and cultural appreciation left an indelible impression, fostering a holistic understanding of New Zealand's natural and cultural landscapes. It is an experience she feels truly blessed to have experienced.

Mary Wise final