Education for Survival and Sustainability: Indigeneity and M?tauranga M?ori?

PhD Candidate: David McKay

Supervisors: Professor Hugh Campbell (CSAFE; Department of Sociology, Gender, and Social Work); Dr. Jim Williams (Te Tumu - School of M?ori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies)

Project dates: 2008-2012



  • Neil Pickering (Bioethics Centre, School of Medicine)
  • Pip Pehi (Te Whare W?nanga o Awanui?rangi, Whakatane)
  • Huata Holmes (Te Kura Akau Taitoka, College of Education)

Central Question

How is ?environmental education? or ?education for sustainability? conceptualised, understood, and practiced among New Zealand M?ori?    

Brief Abstract

A significant lack of robust Maori cultural perspectives are understood or represented in New Zealand?s environmental education policy or practice (Chapman & Eames, 2007). This is a common global issue represented in the literature and suggested to be key to developing environmental sensitivities and practices critical to sustainability and human survival. Leaders in raising awareness among the global community of the current ecological crisis strongly suggest that indigenous understandings are possibly ?...far more profound than current science, because it has been tested over time with the survival of those who possessed the knowledge..." (Suzuki, 2006).

It makes sound sense to gather and utilise all knowledge bases towards addressing a common issue of environmental futures and survival, particularly those that are tried and proven. 

David?s study investigates how ?environmental education? or ?education for sustainability? is conceptualised, understood, and practiced among New Zealand Maori. By understanding what is considered to be, or what is needed as ?environmental education? or ?education for sustainability? and how it is thought about, how it is or would be practiced and why, within and in context with Maori cultural perspectives, such perspectives and any ?tools? may then be appropriately represented as a cohesive validated approach or pedagogy, and integrated in environmental education policy and practices. It is hoped that this study will help facilitate meaningful integration of Maori understandings in education for sustainability / environmental education policy and practices in New Zealand.

David believes that by incorporating such indigenous understandings in (mandatory) education, we stand some hope of achieving better collective understanding and respect of the New Zealand environment among New Zealanders, along with improving understanding, acceptance, and embracement of what is needed to achieve lifestyles and practices that are truly ecologically sustainable. Such perspectives, tools, and practices may then be integrated in resource planning and management towards achieving ecologically sustainable resource management practices and a sustainable future. David hopes that this study may establish a set of tools or at least a template for use in education, planning, and management for sustainability within New Zealand and internationally.  

David?s children are his stake in the future and are his motivation. David?s overall goal is to contribute in a meaningful way to helping individuals develop awareness, knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes, and capacity for action to live in harmony with the Earth on an ecologically (genuinely) sustainable basis, to help ensure that the world our children inherit has an ecologically sustainable future for them and their children?s children.