A sense of belonging in new histories curricula

Issue: Volume 102, Number 2

Posted: 23 February 2023
Reference #: 1HAZQJ

Ākonga across Aotearoa New Zealand are returning to school this year to engage in learning in the new Te Takanga o Te Wā and Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum, which is now a compulsory part of all kura and schools’ marau ā-kura and local curriculum.

St Catherine's College kaiako Bryony Wood.

St Catherine's College kaiako Bryony Wood.

For social studies teacher Bryony Wood, one of the biggest impacts of the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum is supporting both ākonga and kaiako to develop a deeper understanding of how our society works and to understand each other.

Her observation is echoed by Dr Hana O’Regan, Tumu Whakarae of CORE Education, who previously said that the new curricula were an incredible opportunity.

“It’s an incredible opportunity that is the biggest opportunity I’ve seen in my lifetime within the education system and as a community to grow up, to grow up as a country, to stand up as a country, and to be brave enough to really, truly understand who we are.”

Through the new curriculum content, ākonga will develop their understanding of the perspectives and experiences of a diverse range of New Zealanders, helping them in the development of critical thinking skills.

This new content can be taught alongside the existing social sciences national curriculum statement. Schools may also take the opportunity to explore the refreshed social sciences learning area, which includes Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories.

Passion for understanding

Bryony, who teaches at St Catherine’s College in Wellington, says the curriculum content has given her a sense of belonging, particularly as Tangata Tiriti, as Pākehā New Zealander.

“It’s given me a lot of understanding about my role in our society. It helps me connect with my students. It helps me connect with our wider community.”

Bryony says she sees this sense of belonging and passion for understanding society in her students.

“In my experience, ākonga have really enjoyed it. There’s something about young people these days, more so than other generations, where they are really invested in learning about the indigenous knowledge of their whenua.

“There’s a real passion for it. They’re so excited, and that makes me really excited about it. We bounce off each other a lot.”

Meaningful opportunities

Along with the refresh of The New Zealand Curriculum, the curricula have a strong emphasis on Māori history as the foundational and continuous history of Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as collaborating with ākonga, whānau, hapū, iwi and their community to build reciprocal, productive and mana-enhancing partnerships.

These curricula encourage kaiako and teachers to facilitate learning opportunities that are meaningful for all ākonga in their place of learning.

NZ Curriculum HistoryIn a previous article, the New Zealand Chinese Association’s curriculum champion Kirsten Wong, told Education Gazette they hope the curriculum will bring us all together and to a common understanding.

“Because it’s absolutely important that we all understand the history of Aotearoa New Zealand and the history of colonisation – it’s what’s brought us here to where we are now.

 “I think all of us just really hope that the curriculum will lead to greater social equity, greater social justice, greater empathy and understanding and that reinforcement of values that always puts people first.”

Archivist and historian Manisha Morar, a curriculum champion for the Indian community and a member of the
New Zealand Indian Central Association, agreed, saying she anticipates a huge sense of pride in the teaching and learning of Indian histories.

“The important message that we want around teaching the diverse stories of New Zealand histories is having that same sense of pride in the classroom for every single child,” says Manisha.

“The value is that they have a lot more appreciation and understanding of their peers in the classroom and the backgrounds they come from, and it starts to be almost a precursor to avoiding those whole racism and discrimination attitudes that come out later in life.”

Resources and support

The Ministry of Education recognises that school and kura starting points will vary, so implementation is based on an adaptable approach that responds to local contexts.

Resources and supports are available now for schools and kura, for whatever stage they are at in their planning and implementation. 

The Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum website has clear information and guidance for leaders and kaiako to implement these new curricula. Visit education.govt.nz(external link)

Read and hear more from Bryony, Kirsten and Manisha in our special edition of Education Gazette published last year, alongside newly published videos about the curriculum in action on our YouTube channel.

Special edition: Me mātai whakamuri, kia anga whakamua(external link)

Education Gazette on YouTube


BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:35 am, 23 February 2023

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts