National | History

Let hapū write the history to be taught in schools, not the Ministry of Education

Māori education stalwart Kene Martin is calling for the haukāinga’s perspective of Ruapekapeka to be included in the government’s plan to teach New Zealand history in schools and kura in 2022.

Martin says, “Koia wēnei ko ngā tino kōrero tika mo te whawhai i Ruapekapeka, mō tō mātou tupuna, mō Kawiti. Kaua koutou e mahi i wā koutou mahi tuhi i wētahi atu kōrero nā tetahi atu tangata i tuhi, kaua! Kei a mātou o te whānau ngā kōrero mō tō mātou tupuna.”

“The battle of Ruapekapeka is a very significant piece of history, about our tupuna, about Kawiti. You [Ministry of Education], cannot give the responsibility of writing the story to someone else. Don’t! We, the family, know the stories of our ancestor.”

Far North District Councillor and teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe, Moko Tepania agrees: “E whakaae ana ahau kia whakaako i te hītori o Aotearoa i ngā kura hoinō kia kaua tātou e whakawhāiti i ngā kōrero kia noho ki te whārangi kotahi noa iho.” “I agree the history should be taught in schools. However, let’s not water it down to a one pager.”

In September 2019 the government said New Zealand history would be taught in schools by 2022.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the time that this had come as a response “to the growing calls from New Zealanders to know more about our own history and identity.

“With this in mind it makes sense for the National Curriculum to make clear the expectation that our history is part of the local curriculum and marau ā kura in every school and kura,” she says.

Otorohanga petition

A small group of students from Otorohanga School started a petition in 2015 calling for a national day of commemoration for the New Zealand land wars and an introduction of local histories into the New Zealand curriculum.

The result has seen national commemorations and soon the implementation of history in schools.

Minister Chris Hipkins said in the announcement “it is important for learners and ākonga to understand New Zealand history as a continuous thread, with contemporary issues directly linked to major events of the past.”

He says these threads are expected to include:

  • The Arrival of Māori in 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"
  • The 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.

Tepania says “Me kaua anō tātou e whakamāmā i ngā kōrero. Pēnā ko te whakaako tātou i tō tātou hītori me hōhonu, me tika anō tana whakaako kei noho kūare tonu a Aotearoa whānui.”

“Let’s not make the stories more palatable. If we are going to teach the history it needs to be holistic and truthful otherwise New Zealand will remain ignorant.”