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UNDERSTAND in Aotearoa New Zealand's histories

Monika Kern

September 21, 2022

Learning should never sit in isolation, and the new UNDERSTAND, KNOW, DO approach shows this with the strands being braided together into learning that matters. In this post we begin by taking a closer look at the UNDERSTAND element of ANZH.

Throughout their learning journey from Year 1 to Year 10, student will learn to understand four Big Ideas in ANZH:

Māori history is the foundational and continuous history of Aotearoa New Zealand.

E kore au e ngaro; he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea. | We know who we are and where we come from; therefore we can move forward with confidence.

Colonisation and settlement have been central to Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories for the past 200 years.

Kaua e uhia Te Tiriti o Waitangi ki te kara o Ingarangi. Engari me uhi anō ki tōu kahu Māori, ki te kahu o tēnei motu ake. | Do not drape The Treaty of Waitangi with the Union Jack of England, but rather with your Māori cloak, which is of this country.

The course of Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories has been shaped by the use of power.

Ko te pipi te tuatahi, ko te kaunuku te tuarua.| People use their agency to respond to injustice.

Relationships and connections between people and across boundaries have shaped the course of Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories. 

Tuia i runga, tuia i raro, tuia i waho, tuia i roto, tuia te muka tāngata. | People can achieve a common goal when connected through relationships and knowledge.

Developing these understanding takes time; acknowledging this, the curriculum writers keep the four ideas the same across all year levels, but learners move from I’m beginning to understand the four big ideas at years 1-3 to I have a broad and deep understanding of the four big ideas by years 9-10.

What does this mean for schools and kura?

As a staff, examine what you already know about the four big ideas:

  • Who are your experts that can help you fill gaps in your own knowledge? Think of staff, parents and whānau, experts in your local community and from further afield.
  • Who are your local iwi or hapū, and how can you build or strengthen your relationship with them without overloading them? Check with your local MoE office if they are able to assist with this.
  • How does your existing classroom learning already develop learner understanding of the four big ideas?

What evidence might you see in your classroom?

The big ideas remain the same across all year levels, but over time students deepen their understanding of them: this might be evident through their inquiring into Māori history from the initial migration to today, with its local rohe variations. Ākonga will also explore the composition of their local population, facilitated by colonisation, and the impact this process has had on tangata whenua in general and on their local mana whenua. The use and abuse of power has left a lasting impact, both positive and negative, on the different peoples of Aotearoa; with increasing maturity, students will grow their understanding of the resulting consequences. At the same time, ākonga will grow their awareness of how the connections of peoples within Aotearoa and beyond have helped us adopt new technologies, now ideas and make new alliances.

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