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Ten Trend: Social mapping

What’s this trend all about?

Maps have come a long way from flat, printed presentations using manual calculations, to precise data-driven, virtual experiences like we see in platforms like Google Maps. Now we see this data from maps and our own stories coming together to create a sense of connection, self and wellbeing. (Ten Trends 2019, P6)

Social mapping is the term given when technologies are used to aggregate geo-spatial information and blend it with local knowledge about people, places, events, and features...bringing our local stories and cultural histories to life in authentic and meaningful, valid and reliable ways. This is where multiple voices and their perspectives can be heard, enriching local and contextualised knowledge. (Ten Trends 2019, P7).


What’s driving the change?


Social mapping is making visible what has been invisible for a long time. Technologies combine big data (gathered from satellites orbiting Earth and sensors) with the data that is generated in real-time by the activities and inputs (of human interactions), enabling us to see patterns and trends. These cultural, historical and behavioural stories are represented as ‘maps’ which help us to understand histories and our sense of connection with them, and provides perspectives on the future. (Ten Trends 2019, P7).


We are increasingly seeing communities create immersive, interactive cultural experiences, such as proximity activated storytelling platforms that allows you to unlock authentic story in-location at places of cultural significance, such as the Arataki App Cultural Trails (local stories of Tauranga Moana). Now schools are increasingly using technologies (location-based mapping tools, content development apps, virtual tour creation) to tell their local stories in innovative ways.

Gazing mountainWhat examples can we see?

In 2018, Ānaru White and Jason Ruakere shared their collaboratively-based research project onE kore e pau te ika unahi nui — Restoring the holistic wellbeing of Māori boys through connection and innovation looking at how Ako is applied within ancestral spaces (mārae, awa, moana, and maunga), and enhanced through digital interaction (coding, Google Maps and virtual reality). For more on the digital tools, check out Google tools to support storytelling. Jason Ruakere has created a basic Google map and an activity for you to make a map of your own location in, How Google My Maps can help you learn about special places in your community.

LEARNZ free NZ virtual field trip experiences, also provides opportunities for teachers to see how they can connect students with their own cultural and physical landscape; using new mapping technology. In Term 2, 2019, they hosted Map my Waahi - a chance to explore local heritage journeys while creating 3D stories using digital tools like Google Earth and Tour Builder.


Check out LEARNZ diaries, photo gallery and videos for more school stories about Map my Waahi, like these students from Belmont School (above). To find out what more teachers thought about this project, check out the rich commentary in this Piktochart and find out how your students can get involved in more LEARNZ field trips.

Place-based education promotes learning that is rooted in what is local, in terms of a student's immediate schoolyard, neighbourhood, town or community - the unique history, environment, culture, economy, literature, and art of a particular place, especially from a tinkanga and kaupapa Māori perspective.

How might you create your own social mapping (3D stories) that highlights the history, culture and heritage of Tangata Whenua in school and/or community?

Find out more about Place-based learning and culturally responsive practice in a localised curriculum

Virtual haerenga



Atua Matua


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