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Discovered by Polynesian navigators millennia ago, Aotearoa-New Zealand has been significantly changed throughout the centuries by colonization and globalization while still maintaining the cultural roots of the Indigenous Māori people. Frontiers Abroad's newest track, Rediscovering New Zealand: Communities, Cultures and Landscapes, is rooted in the exploration and appreciation of New Zealand's evolving culture with an emphasis on the integration of traditional Māori knowledge (Mātauranga) and practices (Tikanga) into modern society. This culture is characterized by a connection to the landscape, a love for the outdoors, a strong environmental consciousness, and a commitment to bi-culturalism. While the program is based in Christchurch at the University of Canterbury, it includes a pre-semester South Island Field Experience and a mid-semester North Island experience that allow students to explore local cultures and geographic areas of New Zealand.
The program begins with a pre-semester week long field-based course where students are welcomed onto Māori tribal land, participate in service/volunteering activities including environmental restoration and climate change adaptation projects, and experience local natural landscapes through structured outdoor activities. The field experience is designed to not only challenge students but also allow them to explore indigenous values and concepts around reciprocity, environmental guardianship, and wellbeing.
Core Course: Engaging with Aotearoa
Interdisciplinary in nature, Engaging with Aotearoa explores New Zealand communities, landscapes and people through bi-weekly seminars that examine pre-colonial, colonial, and contemporary Aotearoa/New Zealand themes. This foundational class is designed to bring students out of the classroom and into local communities to engage in immersive, transformative experiences and activities that challenge students’ perceptions of New Zealand and the world, with a focus on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Seminar topics address themes such as bicultural management of sustainable resources, Indigenous knowledge and the concept of Kaitiakitanga (environmental guardianship), and resilience and adaptation to climate change and disasters.
About Frontiers Abroad
Embedded in New Zealand, and with more than 15 years’ experience delivering thematic study abroad programs, Frontiers Abroad is in a unique position to deliver this new track that draws from our close working relationships and interactions with Māori iwi (tribes) and communities, and our expertise in the New Zealand natural environment and outdoors. Communities, Cultures and Landscapes serves to expand our offerings to provide exceptional, transformative educational experiences for students of all disciplines.
Student Experience & Additional Information
Pre-semester Field Experience: Students begin with a five-day pre-semester South Island Field Experience designed to explore the program’s core themes and immerse students in the unique essence of New Zealand. Highlights of the South Island experience include time in Banks Peninsula and Christchurch where students study Māori language, culture, history and genealogy and work together with the local Iwi on community-led habitat restoration initiatives. In addition, students visit the Southern Alps where they explore how the New Zealand landscape has influenced the nation's outdoor culture and economy.
Semester at University of Canterbury: Following the South Island Field Experience, the program transitions to Christchurch and the University of Canterbury, where students enroll in four courses, including the required core course Engaging with Aotearoa. Students build their curriculum at UC based on their specific academic focus, making this program an excellent option for all majors. Students are encouraged to take UC courses that continue the program’s theme.
Some possibilities include:
During the campus semester students live at Ilam Apartments. For more information about the housing follow this link.
Mid-Semester Break: During the mid-semester break, the program continues with a week-long experience where students will explore cultures and landscapes of the North Island. Highlights of the North Island experience include travel to Waitomo Caves where students visit a traditional Māori community and explore the historical significance of the Treaty of Waitangi; they then venture into ‘Middle Earth’, the iconic movie set of Hobbiton, to gain insights into New Zealand’s thriving film industry. In addition, students visit Rotorua where they focus on the impacts of ecotourism and its influence on the environment, including a firsthand look at how ecotourism operations contribute to habitat restoration and forest conservation and the opportunity to explore the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua, unveiling 250,000 years of landscape evolution and introducing students to New Zealand’s renewable energy portfolio. This experience not only broadens students’ perspectives on environmental sustainability, but also fosters an appreciation for the intersection of culture, nature, and industry in New Zealand.
The program is designed for all majors and is particularly well-suited for: