An Exciting Future for How We Teach Our Past


We are passionate advocates for getting students to engage with our collective past from multiple perspectives. Because of this, we were very excited to hear the government announce that from 2022, the teaching of New Zealand history will be compulsory in Year 1 through 10 classrooms. This announcement is huge, and it's one that teachers have been instrumental in making a reality.

We are probably even more excited, though, to see that there will also be an overhaul on what history we teach, and how we show it. The delivery of New Zealand history has often been scattershot, with the spectre of colonialism looming over it. This narrow focus has made it honestly…kind of boring. When we repeat the same stories from one or two dry perspectives, it is challenging to get people excited.

Going forward, though, we will now get to teach the following areas from multiple perspectives:

• The arrival of Māori to Aotearoa
• First encounters and early colonial history
• Te Tiriti o Waitangi
• Colonisation and immigration
• The New Zealand Wars
• How national identity has evolved
• Our role in the Pacific
• Cultural plurality in the late 20th century

As educators, this overhaul gives a whole raft of new opportunities to come up with original and unique ways of relaying the past to our classrooms. History is not a linear and straightforward narrative of events. It is a dynamic bundle of perspectives, ideas, questions, data, and concepts. This dynamism should come through when we present history to students, and they should feel invigorated when they tackle our national roots.

For several years, our kits and resources have worked to bring this style of history into the classroom. 2019 has been a particularly busy year for us, given the Tuia 250 events that have been going on. We have produced two kits so far, and have another one in the early production stages, for term 1 of 2020. While the allocation of these 2019 kits might be exhausted, we still the teacher's resources and print files for these kits all online for free. We would love to share them with you, and we would love to hear about your experiences.

The first of these is As I Saw It, which we produced for Years 4 through 8 with the Auckland Museum. As I Saw It focuses on a single event in Whitianga in 1769, presented from 16 different perspectives. The resource combines writing prompts, a 'Guess Who' game, and various objects so that your students will come up with a point of view story. They come away grasping a specific event in New Zealand history, while also learning that our understanding of the past is not definitive. If you would like to download the free teacher resource, you can find it at the As I Saw It page.

For Year 7-10 students, we produced the Tuia 250 First Encounters kit with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. This kit also encompasses multiple perspectives but is more focused on looking at how and why history has been written the way it has. Students are presented with ten different historical themes and will see how we wrote about these themes in the past, and from where these perspectives came. Your class will then discover challenging new views that encourage students to question why some historical stories are written the way they are. If you would like to download the free teacher resource, you can find it at the Tuia 250 First Encounters page.

We also have a series of resources that we have produced with Te Tai Treaty Settlement Stories. These are resources that we are proud of, and they cover a variety of topics that emphasise how te Tiriti o Waitangi is a living document. Make a Map of Stories is a research-based project, where your class will investigate their local area to find the history held within. Is our NZ Story Diverse? has a focus on understanding how people pass on and sustain culture and what the consequences of this are. These are just two of the multiple resources in this field that we have available on the resources section of our website, all for free.

This chance to delve deeper into history and how we present it is something we can't wait to embrace whole-heartedly. We hope you're as excited as we are, and you're keen to join us as we tackle these opportunities head-on.