Teaching NZ’s own history moves a step closer


What Kiwi students will learn about New Zealand history at school is up for public discussion, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.

Public engagement on draft curriculum content for Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories to be taught in schools will begin today and run until 31 May.

“In September 2019 we announced Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories would be taught in all schools and kura from 2022. This was a response to the growing calls from New Zealanders to know more about our own history and identity,” Chris Hipkins said.

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.

“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,” Chris Hipkins said.

“We want all New Zealanders to have their say on the draft content and we are hoping to hear from as many people as possible. I urge all New Zealanders who are interested in our history and kura to provide feedback.

“Over the past year, the Ministry of Education has been working with teachers, school leaders, school sector representatives, academics, representatives from the Māori, Pacific, migrants and disabled persons communities to draft curriculum content.

“The content was tested in a small number of schools and kura in Term 4 last year and this year the Ministry is seeking input from all schools and kura and the public before the content is finalised.

Chris Hipkins said having the resources and infrastructure in place to teach our young about all aspects of New Zealand’s past will be a watershed moment for us.

“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,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Support from school communities is critical to get this exciting new subject up and running. The Ministry will be rolling out a range of resources to support the teaching of the updated content in schools and kura. This includes local curriculum guides and support through professional learning and development.”

Draft content and an online survey is  available at Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories in our national curriculum – Education in New Zealand.


When will the updates be introduced?

The curriculum updates will come into effect in 2022. They will be gazetted during 2021 to give schools and kura time to prepare for implementing this.

What year levels will be supported?

The updates will cover the entire breadth of the national curriculum. This means we would expect Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories to be taught as part of the local curriculum and marau ā-kura throughout the compulsory curriculum from 2022.

The updates give greater clarity about the progress and achievement of all children, so the important learning is not left to chance.

Will this mean New Zealand’s histories will become a compulsory subject?

Histories is already part of Social Sciences in The New Zealand Curriculum and Tikanga ā-Iwi in Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. Learning areas, including Social Sciences and Tikanga-ā-iwi, are compulsory from years 1-10. From year 11 schools and kura can choose which subjects their students are required to take.

We will expect Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories to be taught as part of the local curriculum and marau ā-kura at every level of the curriculum from years 1-10, and to be available as an option from year 11.

Will Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories be included in NCEA?

Yes. The curriculum changes and NCEA change package will provide opportunities for New Zealand histories. Schools and wharekura will be able to make Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories available as an NCEA option.

What effect will this have on the rest of the curriculum?

The curriculum is being updated to make explicit the expectation that Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories are taught as part of the local curriculum and marau ā-kura in every school and kura.

However, there is wider work underway to ensure the curriculum is fit for purpose, now and in the future; and that it supports the wellbeing, identities, languages and cultures of all learners.

Who has the Ministry worked with to develop the draft content?

The Ministry established several stakeholder groups and worked closely with them. Groups are:

  • He Whakaruruhau comprised of pakeke drawn from diverse backgrounds whose experiences in Māori history and whakapapa, and knowledge and understanding of the contemporary Te Tiriti o Waitangi post settlement era, will umbrella each phase of the project across the national curriculum.
  • Ohu Matua (Reference group) comprised of curricula and history experts, Māori, Pākehā, Pacific, migrant communities, disabled peoples, teachers, kaiako and curriculum leaders.
  • Curriculum writing groups made up of two sub-groups from the Ohu Matua, consisting of curriculum experts which focusing on either Te Marautanga o Aotearoa or The New Zealand Curriculum.
  • Curriculum Resources group to review, design and develop curriculum and workforce supports alongside key narrators and holders of these histories.
  • Interagency group: selected to provide representation of key government agencies that can contribute critical information in the design, development and implementation of the Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories curriculum update.
  • Independent Expert Advisory group: convened by the Royal Society Te Apārangi; they act as a body of knowledge in relation to New Zealand’s histories.

What were the seven themes agreed by Government in 2019?

The themes agreed by Government in 2019 were:

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