Northland students dive virtually into kauri knowledge

By James Caldwell, Tepara Koti

Northland students get to experience the inner workings of kauri trees via new virtual reality technology. 

With kauri dieback prevalent in forests across the North, organisers hope students take away a deeper understanding of how they can help curb the disease from spreading.

A new way for students to dive into the depths of a kauri tree.

Student Te Mania Smith (Ngāpuhi) says, "I thought it was real, I thought I was going through a hole."

Learning about the connections between the world as we see it, right down to small microbes is one of the main purposes of the programme.

Another key learning point is understanding what kauri dieback disease is and how we can protect our forests.

Principal Research Scientist Amanda Black from Lincoln University says, "It gives a chance for kura and students at Northland to interact with science in a context that they're comfortable in, so in mātauranga Māori. Traditionally sciences are very siloed and it's hard to engage kids these days into stuff that they can't actually imagine themselves being in. And part of this is breaking down those barriers and getting the students to be comfortable in the sciences but coming at it from a mātauranga Māori perspective."

The programme serves as an encouragement especially for Māori students to pursue the sciences.

But there's one main message that they want to have etched into everyone's minds; to scrub, spray and stay.