“Nearly two decades ago, when the New Zealand highway authority was planning the Waikato Expressway, people from the Māori tribe Ngāti Naho objected. The highway would encroach on an area that, in Māori tradition, was governed by a water-dwelling creature, a taniwha.” R. Cernansky, The New York Times, July 10, 2021
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Indigenous Knowledge, Innovative Solutions, By Rachel Cernansky, The New York Times, July 10, 2021
“The authorities took those concerns into account and rerouted the road to circumvent the area in question. As a result, a year later, when the area was hit by a major flood, the road was unharmed.
‘I’m still waiting for the headline, ‘Mythical Creature Saves the Taxpayer Millions,’ said Dan Hikuroa, a senior lecturer in Māori studies at the University of Auckland and member of the Ngāti Maniapoto tribe. He has often wondered if, once the flood hit, the technical team later said, ‘Why didn’t you just say it’s a flood risk area?’
Like many Indigenous peoples around the world, the Māori have developed their understanding of their environment through close observation of the landscape and its behaviors over the course of many generations.
Now the New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency regularly looks for ways to integrate traditional Māori knowledge, or mātauranga, into its decision-making…Western-trained researchers and governments are increasingly recognizing the wealth of knowledge that Indigenous communities have amassed to coexist with and protect their environments over hundreds or even thousands of years. Peer-reviewed scientific journals have published studies demonstrating that around the world, Indigenous-managed lands have far more biodiversity intact than other lands, even those set aside for conservation… This is ever more urgent, particularly as the climate crisis unfolds…Indigenous scholars warn, though, that while traditional knowledge can be used to benefit the world, it can also be mishandled or exploited.
Dominique David Chavez, a descendant of the Arawak Taíno in the Caribbean, and a research fellow at the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona and the National Science Foundation, says that, as Western scientists, ‘we are trained to go into communities, get that knowledge and go back to our institutions and disseminate it in academic journals.’
That can be disruptive to traditional knowledge sharing, from one generation to another, she says, which should be the priority — ensuring that Indigenous knowledge systems are preserved in and supportive of the communities that developed them…Ideally, the shared use of Indigenous knowledge can help mend broken relationships between Indigenous and Western communities.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 60 minutes.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.
II. While Reading Activities:
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You usea dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Indigenous people help their countries world-wide.
- Maori leaders and members of the Australian Defense Force worked together.
- The highway would encroach on a sacred area.
- The Māori have developed their understanding of their environment through close observation.
- The New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency regularly looks for ways to integrate traditional Māori knowledge.
- Indigenous communities and governments have learned to coexist.
- Indigenous scholars warn, traditional knowledge can be used to benefit the world, it can also be mishandled or exploited.
- Many believe that Indigenous knowledge systems should be preserved.
- Bridging Indigenous and Western science also means respecting the ecosystem.
- Some people still use industrial pesticides.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- The New Zealand highway is planned two decades ago.
- The Māori are ilke many Indigenous peoples around the world.
- The authorities rerouted the road.
- Mr. Hikuroa has been appointed the culture commissioner for UNESCO New Zealand.
- Western-trained researchers is recognizing that Indigenous communities have valuable knowledge.
- Indigenous knowledge can deepen Western scientists’ understanding of their own research.
- Traditional knowledge should be shared from one generation to another.
- The scientific method are designed to be indifferent to morals or values.
- Government regulations had already restricted the harvest of sweetgrass.
Identify The Speakers
Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.
- “I’m still waiting for the headline, ‘Mythical Creature Saves the Taxpayer Millions.”
- “Why didn’t you just say it’s a flood risk area?”
- “As Western scientists, we are trained to go into communities, get that knowledge and go back to our institutions and disseminate it in academic journals.”
- “That can be disruptive to traditional knowledge sharing, from one generation to another, which should be the priority.”
- “In Indigenous sciences, it’s not possible to separate the knowledge from the ethics of the responsibility for that knowledge — whereas in Western science, we do that all the time.”
- “The scientific method is designed to be indifferent to morals or values. Indigenous knowledge puts them back in.”
- “That’s one of the reasons Native people were systematically removed from what are today’s national parks, because of this idea that people and nature can’t coexist in a good way.”
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- Do you have ways of helping our planet? For example, recycling helps address climate change.
- Why did the Māori tribe object to having the highway built?
- Why do you think the authorities in New Zealand listened to the Māori?
- From the article,Dan Hikuroa, a senior lecturer in Māori studies stated, “I’m still waiting for the headline, ‘Mythical Creature Saves the Taxpayer Millions.” Why do you think he said that? Was he joking?
- What is ‘regenerative agriculture’ ?
- Who did Australian authorities consult last year while combating wildfires?
- List three new ideas that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Share your responses with your class.
- With your group members make a list of ways you can help with global warming.