Māori students research water quality at He Puna Pūtaiao

The University of Canterbury's He Puna Pūtaiao has wrapped up for 2018, with students presenting the results of the six-week programme to whanau and guests at the Pō Whakanui held at UC on Monday 10 December.


The He Puna Pūtaiao Programme was established by the College of Science in 2013 and is designed to give Year 10 Māori students from selected schools the opportunity to work alongside scientists and learn about scientific research.

Puna means to well up or to flow, so symbolically represents youth or rangatahi. Its meaning may also incorporate research because in a sense research is meant to flow out and create meaningfulness so as to fill the kete or baskets of knowledge. Pūtaiao is science, so He Puna Pūtaiao means research, youth and science.

During this programme, the students gathered scientific data to learn about water quality and its importance. They worked alongside scientists and postgraduate students who mentored the students over the 6-week programme. One day was spent at Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere) where students took measurements for pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, turbidity and looked at invertebrate populations.

Nine students from each of the participating schools (Burnside High School, Cashmere High School, Lincoln High School and Linwood College) were selected to take part in the programme.

By the end of the programme students developed an e-book diary and a poster to present their data from the field trip to Te Waihora. Students explained their posters to whanau and guests at the Pō Whakanui held at UC on Monday 10 December and received a certificate for completing the programme. Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori, Amokapua Māori Darryn Russell opened the Pō Whakanui with Amorangi Pūtaiao Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Science, Wendy Lawson. John Pirker from the School of Biological Sciences was responsible for delivering the programme and was the MC for the evening.