New Zealand, or Aotearoa “The Land of the Long White Cloud,” is a country defined by its rich cultural traditions, natural beauty, and welcoming people.

New Zealand’s population of five million people is a melting-pot of cultures including Māori (16.5%), European (70%), Asian (15%) and Pacific Island (8.1%) influences. During this multimedia storytelling journey through Aotearoa’s cultural landscape, students will see firsthand the country’s diverse multicultural society and study how it strives to develop cross-cultural recognition and respect, particularly between the Māori (indigenous) and Pākehā (non-Māori) people. During this four-week program, students will record interviews, photograph, film and write about the people and environment of the country, diving deep into what is at the heart of New Zealand’s cultural and environmental landscape. The final project will represent students’ impressions of multiculturalism and environmental changes in New Zealand through a visual story comprising still images, moving images, audio recordings, and writing.

In the program’s ongoing learning community, students will have daily reflections through journaling and discussion, as well as intentional activities to ensure they are gaining a deeper understanding, respect, and appreciation for other cultures and the land that inhabits them. Specifically, students will be interacting with locals, traveling throughout the country for immersive experiences in the cultural environment, delving into the relationship between the people and the land, observing the impact of global warming, and hiking on day trips both urban and rural. The program will visit maraes in the Bay of Islands and Rotorua. Visits in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, will include Māori television, media outlets, museums, new and rebuilt architecture in Christchurch, as well as government agencies – like the Ministry of the Environment. These experiences will enrich the student’s understanding of why and how the Māori and Pākehā people actively work to provide equal opportunities and respect for cultural values. 

This program will also explore the cultural value of the natural environment. Recently, New Zealand granted “living person” rights to several land features. And of equal significance will be the examination of the effects of global warming on New Zealand, a country that is expected to feel the effects of global warming at an accelerated pace. This will be an important part of the student’s visual stories, as they capture the remarkable, yet fragile landscape, and learn how New Zealanders revere, care for, and respect their land and environment.