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Cultural Mapping

Tools for Mapping
Māori Sense of Place

Cultural mapping is a way of putting traditional knowledge and important cultural information onto a digital map.

We are all located somewhere!

  • We’re all located in a natural landscape eg with mountains, plains, rivers, coasts etc.
  • We’re all located in a cultural landscape eg with man-made features such as schools, roads, towns, stories, leaders, events, and historical places.

The Ngāi Tahu Cultural Mapping Project

The stories and place names that show Ngāi Tahu history in Te Waipounamu/the South Island are being put onto a virtual landscape. This is called the Ngāi Tahu Cultural Mapping Project.

What do we know about our kura/school and the cultural landscape it belongs to?

Here are some ideas to get you started on a cultural map for your school community.

Possible Horopaki ako

  • Topics for learning using natural features eg sea, rivers, bush, mountains, birds.

Localised stories

  • Hapū or iwi stories that are part of the haukāinga.


  • Physical features of an area important to hapū/iwi.
  • Important places.

You could use this Google doc worksheet example to record information about nearby landmarks.


  • Leaders that have guided the hapū or iwi?

Marae/hapū, iwi

  • Marae, , significant hapū and iwi from the area.

Iwi/hapū events

  • Important events and celebrations both past and present.


Marae/hapū, iwi

  • Marae, pā, important hapū and iwi from the area.


  • Reo’ that describes the people using metaphors, kīwaha, whakataukī, whakatauākī, natural features.

Ako me aromatawai - learning and assessment

  • Ways of learning or assessing for your whānau, ākonga.

Ngā Tapuwae a ngā tūpuna - Ancestral footprints

Audio Māori keywords: 

Watch:  TV1 news report about Tai Rawhiti Māori who are using data mapping technology to map trails associated with Tupuna around the East Coast.

Places where mahinga kai has been gathered over time is one idea for a cultural mapping project. Image: LEARNZ.

Identifying pā from the area is a good idea to include for mapping the cultural landscape. Image: LEARNZ.

Landmarks important to iwi might include areas of forest, or even certain trees. Image: LEARNZ.

Mapping significant hapū or iwi stories makes sure they are not lost over time. Image: LEARNZ.

Tools for Mapping
Māori Sense of Place