Rupe Rere Nui

Place-based Storytelling in Robotics with Māori-medium Students


  • Ruth Lemon University of Auckland - Waipapa Taumata Rau
  • Craig Sutherland
  • Allan Fowler


place-based education, local curriculum, screen-free robotics


This paper is part of a larger study involving the design and implementation of a prototype of a low-cost programming environment or tangible user interface where students use robots to navigate a geographical map in telling and re-telling stories associated with that place. The geographical map that was initially developed depicted the Wellington region (the lower North Island of New Zealand), as the lead researcher for this project had connections to Wellington. The story-telling focused on the narratives of Kupe, a Māori explorer and one of the first to discover New Zealand. However, in response to an inner-city Auckland school, we designed a map that would support the children’s engagement with local landmarks, as expressed in a waiata (song) called Rupe Rere Nui. Māori kaumatua (elder), Wally Penetito, exhorts teachers to ‘start where your feet are’, emphasising the importance of place-based learning or localised curriculum.

The focus of this paper lies in pedagogical possibilities and the importance of responsive curriculum design when you are working in classroom contexts. The study contributes to the field of localised curriculum with a focus on the place of storytelling and the incorporation of non-technical subjects, such as place-based narratives, into a robotics system. The use of paper-based commands with young children aged between 5-9 years of age has been evaluated over a range of settings and the working prototype has been refined as a result of trials with teachers and children in classrooms.

Additional Files



How to Cite

Lemon, R., Sutherland, C., & Fowler, A. (2023). Rupe Rere Nui: Place-based Storytelling in Robotics with Māori-medium Students. The 40th International Pupils’ Attitudes Towards Technology Conference Proceedings 2023, 1(October). Retrieved from