Region-specific early battles, migration, to be taught in new history curriculum

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School students will be taught about the early battles and migration which shaped their region as part of a new history curriculum to be rolled out next year.

A plaque unveiled in Parliament, commemorating the New Zealand Wars.

Battles from the New Zealand Wars may be included in the new history curriculum (file image). Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

Officials have been devising the draft curriculum – published online today – since 2019 when the government announced Aotearoa history would be taught in all schools and kura by 2022.

The subject will be made compulsory up to Year 10 and be available as an option from Year 11.

On Wednesday, Education Minister Chris Hipkins urged New Zealanders to check out the content and provide feedback before it was finalised.

“In practice, learners across New Zealand will explore the stories that are unique to us. In Te Tai Tokerau, for example, I know people will be interested in learning about the battle that took place in Ruapekapeka during the Northern Wars in the 1800s,” Hipkins said.

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“In Waikato, ākonga may learn about the invasion of Waikato led by Governor George Grey and the implications this had for people living in the region.

“In Otago, they may delve deeper into the region’s Māori and Chinese heritage and how it has helped shape the area into what it is today, while in Northland they may explore Māori histories and early Croatian stories.

“In Porirua, learners may explore the stories of Pacific migration to the area, including when and how people came to the city and the reasons for coming such as work and education. They could also explore how Pacific people have influenced the culture of Porirua,” Hipkins said.

Currently, history is taught as part of the social sciences subject, but the framework does not dictate what or how certain issues would be taught.

The shift in approach would be a “watershed moment” for New Zealanders, Hipkins said.

“It will provide opportunities to learn about history from a local, regional and national perspective and will help students get a stronger sense of how the past has shaped who we are.”

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Hipkins said the Ministry of Education (MoE) would roll out a range of resources to support schools to teach the updated content.

The MoE consulted teachers, academics, iwi, and community groups in designing the curriculum, including an independent expert advisory group convened by the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

The lessons were tested in a small number of schools and kura late last year.

The reset will include seven overarching themes:

  • The arrival of Māori to Aotearoa
  • First encounters and early colonial history of Aotearoa
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its history
  • Colonisation of, and immigration to, Aotearoa, including the New Zealand Wars
  • The evolving national identity in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries
  • The role of Aoteraroa in the Pacific
  • Aotearoa in the late 20th century and the evolution of a national identity with cultural plurality

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