Curriculum refresh to enhance learning

Issue: Volume 100, Number 2

Posted: 25 February 2021
Reference #: 1HAHFh

Work is underway to refresh the national curriculum so that teachers will be better supported to design relevant and exciting learning experiences and make a positive difference for learners, whānau and communities.

The national curriculum for schooling will be refreshed over the next five years.

Associate Ministers of Education Jan Tinetti and Kelvin Davis announced the refresh on 11 February 2021 and committed to a collaborative process of co-design with opportunities for the education sector, learners, parents and whānau to be involved at all stages of the refresh.

The work encompasses Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (TMoA) and The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

Refresh of The New Zealand Curriculum

Proposed changes to NZC aim to support teachers and learners by making NZC more bicultural and inclusive and more explicit about what learners need to understand, know and do.

The NZC framework and learning areas will be refreshed and supporting resources will be developed for leaders and teachers to help them implement the revised curriculum content.

A consistent model will be used for all learning areas to describe learning in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. The refresh will review the large number of achievement objectives currently in the curriculum and aim to provide greater clarity about progress across the curriculum to ensure learners are reaching their milestones.

The refreshed curriculum will be developed collaboratively to ensure key competencies such as relating to others and critical thinking are connected explicitly to learning areas. There are examples of this in the draft Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories content currently out for consultation. Feedback from parents and whānau has highlighted the importance of tamariki leaving school with the skills, capabilities and knowledge they need to be successful.

The refreshed NZC will support the design of high-quality marau ā-kura and local curriculum – striking a balance between learning that is important nationally and learning that reflects the rohe. It will be more explicit about where and how local contexts can best be integrated with the national curriculum.

The reason for the refresh

Since 2007 NZC has provided the framework around which schools build their curricula. NZC is written as a broad national framework to support local curriculum design. More support and clarity are needed to implement the curriculum in the way it was intended.

Since 2019, when Education Minister Chris Hipkins first signalled the need for change, and to reflect the identities, language and culture of ākonga, the Ministry of Education has been working with people from the education sector and wider communities to understand the improvements needed for student success now and in the future.

More is needed to be done to uphold commitments to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Te ao Māori, te reo Māori me ōna tikanga need to be integral to the curriculum for all learners in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Positive difference

Greater clarity in the refreshed curriculum will mean teachers are better supported to design exciting and worthwhile learning experiences. It will make a positive difference for learners, whānau, communities and Aotearoa New Zealand as a whole.

In 2021, the work will involve:

  • refreshing the overall framework of NZC so it is bicultural and inclusive, clear about the learning that needs to be covered, and easier to use
  • updating the Social Sciences learning area, including the new Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories content, so it can be taught in schools in 2022. This will be followed by developing content for Mathematics, English and Science learning areas in 2022
  • trialling a record of learning, so that information on progress in social and emotional learning is shared with learners, their whānau and teachers.

Refresh of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa

The refresh of TMoA will result in a more authentic indigenous curriculum.

The Ministry worked with Māori throughout 2018 and 2019 across the diverse te reo Māori settings to gain a better understanding of what ākonga, kura, whānau, and hapori needed from the education system.

In 2019, the Ministerial Advisory Group identified three key principles of trust, coherence, and equity as critical to how we attend to the strengths, needs and aspirations of Māori.

TMoA supported the movement to revitalise te reo Māori. This goal continues to be important to ākonga, whānau, hapū and iwi and is often reflected explicitly in marau ā-kura, along with the core values and principles that are unique to hapū and iwi across the country.

TMoA, through marau ā-kura, promotes and keeps at its core the centrality of identity, language and culture to shape the next generation of whānau, hapū and iwi.

Strengthened curriculum

The strengthened TMoA will continue to embody te ao Māori and will reflect a more authentic and indigenous curriculum. Along with trust, coherence, and equity, this will be achieved through the integration of He Tamaiti Hei Raukura. This underpinning framework recognises ākonga as ‘he uri whakaheke’ (descendant), ‘he tangata’ ( person), ‘he puna kōrero’ (communicator), and ‘he ākonga’ (learner).

This will provide clarity and ensure Māori medium pathways are supported by an ākonga-focused, holistic and future-focused national curriculum grounded in te ao Māori.

The position paper on He Tamaiti Hei Raukura outlined this clearly.

“Rather than being subject-focused, ‘He Tamaiti Hei Raukura’ places the ākonga along with their whānau at the centre and aims to allow and enable Māori-medium graduates to prosper in the 21st century,” it states.
(He Tamaiti Hei Raukura Position Paper, 2020, Victoria University of Wellington, Haemata Ltd., Grey and Grey Associates.)

Where to from here

In 2021 the work will involve:

  • co-designing with the sector an ākonga and future-focused curriculum
  • listening to and supporting the aspirations of ākonga, kura, whānau, hapū, iwi
  • valuing a broader definition of success for ākonga
  • directing resources to areas that are priorities for Māori medium
  • supporting stronger connections between early learning and kura.

We also need our curriculum to be clear and continue to support the design of high-quality marau ā-kura – striking a balance between the learning that is important nationally and learning that reflects the rohe.

TMoA will be refreshed to recognise a broader definition of success and equip all learners with the essential knowledge, skills and values to operate confidently in te ao Māori and the wider world. Ākonga and whānau will be able to see themselves reflected in their learning and future pathways.

How to be involved

Expertise from the sector and communities will help co-design content and ensure a successful implementation.

An extensive package of supports, including professional support, will be designed in collaboration with educators.

You can read more about the work to refresh New Zealand’s school curriculum in Minister Tinetti’s media release and on the and Kauwhata Reo websites.

You’ll be able to have your say there or you can email: or

Timeline: Development of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa

1980s: Curriculum review led to National Curriculum Statement: A Discussion Document for Primary and Secondary Schools (Draft) in 1988.

1990s: Te Marautanga o Aotearoa – First curriculum statements for Māori medium developed.

1993-97: The New Zealand Curriculum framework announced with new National Curriculum Statements progressively replacing old syllabuses. The final statement was for Health and Physical Education.

1997: New timelines for review of The New Zealand Curriculum announced.

2003: The New Zealand Curriculum Stocktake Report published.

2004-07: The New Zealand Curriculum redeveloped through consultation, feedback and in response to the stocktake, the recommendations.

2005-08: Redevelopment of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

2007: Final version of the revised The New Zealand Curriculum published.

2008: Final version of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa published.

2008-09: Implementation of the two partnership documents: The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

2015: Published revised technologies learning area of The New Zealand Curriculum to include digital technologies and hangarau learning area of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa to include hangarau matihiko.

2021: Curriculum refresh announced for The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

More information about the national curriculum refresh is available at: 

Refreshing our national curriculum – Education in New Zealand(external link)

Kia māhorahora te reo Māori – Kauwhata Reo(external link)

Curriculum Refresh for Clearer, More Relevant Learning – link) 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:46 am, 25 February 2021

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