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Education Blog

Here on our blog we share posts about our programmes, relevant current events and key historical events and people relating to the stories of Waitangi. To find out about our onsite Education Experience, or Virtual Eemxperience for your class, please contact education@waitangi.org.nz


First encounters

December 18 2021   Today marks 379 years since the first known encounter between Māori and Europeans. On this date in 1642, Abel Tasman’s Dutch East India Company expedition anchored their two ships at Mohua (Golden Bay, South Island). The local Māori, Ngāti Tūmatakōkiri, would have been mystified by the sight of these bizarre vessels. The first conversation between two worlds began with discord and incomprehension, leading to fear and attack, death and retreat.


A separate colony

November 16 2021  For a few months in 1840 New Zealand was closely connected with Australia, and formally an extension of New South Wales. On 16 November 1840, our nation officially became a separate colony within the British Empire. North, South and Stewart islands were to be known respectively as New Ulster, New Munster (all the South Island and the southern part of the North Island) and New Leinster. This ended more than 50 years of confusion over the relationship between the islands and Australia.


Remember Parihaka

November 5 2021  Mahatma Gandhi is widely known for peaceful resistance; a generation earlier and far less known until recent decades, Māori leaders Te Whiti Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi had blazed this trail. In 1866, they set up Parihaka in Mt Taranaki’s shadow, to peacefully resist settlement on confiscated ancestral lands. This vibrant community was based on equality, collectivity, identity, goodwill and self-sufficiency. Today marks 140 years since colonial forces, in one of our history’s darkest episodes, demolished the village, with most inhabitants arrested or driven away.


Not one more acre

October 13 2021  This date marks 46 years since 5,000 marchers arrived at Parliament to present a 60,000 strong petition highlighting Māori land loss. Organised by Māori land rights group Te Rōpū O Te Matakite and led by 79- year -old Whina (later Dame Whina) Cooper, the 1975 Land March left from Te Hāpua, Northland, with 50 marchers. The hīkoi grew in strength as Māori of all ages, backgrounds and tribal groups marched with supporters from Pākehā and other communities.

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Act of recognition

October 10 2021  On this day 46 years ago, 135 years after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, Labour Cabinet Minister Matiu Rata pushed through the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975. This set up the Waitangi Tribunal to investigate Crown breaches of the treaty from the date the act was passed. For the first time Māori were able to speak as iwi and present cases themselves rather than through lawyers. In 1985, the Tribunal was strengthened to encompass claims of breaches since 1840.

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Fill your kete

October 4 2021  We’re excited to be part of a transformative time in education. From 2022, the new Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum will be taught in all schools and kura. Our education team can support and inspire teachers on this journey – join us on our Aotearoa NZ’s Histories Te Kōngahu Museum Tour.  Build on your knowledge and understanding of our nation’s founding and soak up Waitangi’s unique beauty, culture and history at your leisure after the tour.

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Weaving our histories

September 23 2021  The new Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum emphasises multiple narratives. For example, this week in 1893, women in New Zealand won the right to vote and many students may be familiar with campaigners like Kate Sheppard. The new curriculum encourages highlighting previously untold stories of peoples; in this case it would aim to include stories from Māori, Pacific and Chinese communities of their part in the achievement of suffrage in NZ.

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Te Wā Tuku Reo Māori

September 13 2021  Māori Language Moment 2021 aims to make history, help shape the future and set a new record. Part of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, last year 1.1 million of us united for the biggest Māori language event in history. 2021 aims for 2 million of us to set the world record for the biggest single, simultaneous celebration of an endangered language. Gathering together to help revitalise te reo Māori shows we value protecting our unique taonga for future generations.

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World Literacy Day

September 8 2021 Today is World Literacy Day and next week is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week). The arrival of Europeans in the early 1800s brought the new technology of literacy which Māori were keen to embrace; they were instrumental in creating the written form of te reo Māori. In the 1830s literacy rapidly spread as Māori learned to read and write in their own language and by the mid-19th century they had a higher literacy rate than the settlers.


Whakanuia te Taiao

September 5 2021  Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is one of Waitangi’s core values. The Treaty Grounds are set in 16 hectares of native bush, cared for and conserved in a sustainable way. Boardwalks through Te Wao Nui o Tāne (The Realm of Tāne) provide the perfect platform to get right among the towering trees and bountiful birdlife. Students go back in time as they explore the many information panels along the way sharing traditional Māori lore about our flora and fauna.

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Spring at Waitangi

September 2 2021  We look forward to safely hosting groups once we get the all-clear! Spring is a glorious time to soak up Waitangi’s unique beauty, culture and history and to relax at spots like Te Ana o Maikuku (Maikuku’s Cave), which tells an important ancestral story for local Māori. Sharing these stories in the place they happened is powerful. Download our Inquiry Unit: Stories of our Māori Placenames and discover the significance of your placenames, past and present.


Dear Dr Bloomfield

August 23 2021   Imagining conversations between past and present helps students understand different perspectives and times in history. This imagined letter from Dr Joseph Frengley, 1918 acting head of the Department of Public Health, Hospitals and Charitable Institutions, to our Director-General of Health, compares pandemic responses from very different times. Lessons learned from the 1918 influenza pandemic still form the bedrock of our current COVID-19 Pandemic Plan.

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Anyone for cricket?

August 12 2021  NZ’s first recorded game of cricket was played at Paihia on Horotutu beach in 1832. An end-of-school treat for pupils of the Paihia mission school, it was a bi-cultural affair with missionary families and Tai Tokerau rangatira also taking part. It seems fitting that ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 Education Programme, CRIC-KIDS, was recently launched at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, near the site of the first game. Students from two Far North schools learnt cricket skills alongside three of our White Ferns.

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Protecting our taonga

August 1 2021   This day in 1987 finally saw te reo Māori recognised as an official language of New Zealand under the Māori Language Act, the result of a long struggle by Māori and their allies. The historic 1985 Te Reo Māori claim, one of the earliest Waitangi Tribunal claims, asserted that te reo Māori was a taonga (treasure) the Crown should protect under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The claim upheld that Māori be promoted as a ‘living language’ and ‘an ordinary means of communication’.


Whakatū Wāhine

28/7/2021    128 years ago today, the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition was presented to Parliament and in September, New Zealand became the first country in the world where all women could vote. Much is known about Kate Sheppard, who led the fight, but what about the Māori signatories?  Their stories have not always been so visible, such as that of Taitokerau suffragist Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia. She took a step further, arguing not just for the right of women to vote, but also to sit in parliament.

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Winter holiday fun

21/7/2021  Our education team loves getting creative with tamariki and whānau during school holiday programmes – this week we’ve been busy with Matariki-inspired art and craft. Tamariki can make a modern version of traditional pūrerehua – a Māori whirly wind instrument that sounds like insects’ or birds’ wings, weave a special taonga to treasure, build a manu aute (kite) to fly, or design a twinkling tealight lantern to light up the night.

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Matariki magic

12/7/2021   Last week our education team welcomed over 500 tamariki, along with kaiako and whānau, to celebrate Matariki, the Māori New Year. Each day schools enjoyed interactive storytelling, traditional games and kite flying. We invite local schools to take part annually – it’s all about having fun together as we learn about this special time of year, officially a public holiday from 2022.

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Blast off!

24/6/2021  Kaikohe West School Year 5 -6 classes recently took part in our digital learning programme. Their topic was space and stars, and inspired by Waitangi’s stories of early navigators to Aotearoa, students told their own stories through digital technologies. They created rockets, other 3D objects and 2D artwork, with all cosmic creations put together to form a virtual galactic world.


An evolving design

12/6/2021  On this day in 1902, New Zealand’s national flag was officially approved; its design had evolved over several years. Its origins date from 1865 when the British government instructed that all ships from the colonies fly the Blue Ensign with the badge of the colony on it. (The Blue Ensign is the dark blue field with the Union Flag in the upper hoist corner).

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Tangible taonga

4/6/2021  Waitangi’s unique artefacts give tangible form to the intangible past. As students explore historical taonga, they connect with the time, places, events, and people of our history. Exposure to artefacts brings them closer to the past in a way that words alone often cannot do, bringing to life the stories about how our nation, communities and cultures came to be.

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A momentous arrival

17/5/2021     On this date in 1833, James Busby, first British Resident, came ashore in Paihia from HMS Imogene. About 600 Māori greeted him with a ceremonial haka and a mix of Māori and Europeans assembled at St Paul’s Anglican Church. The Rev. Henry Williams asked that the Great Seal on the Royal Letter be broken and the contents read, with the Māori translation given by the Rev. William Williams.

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Welcome to Term 2!

3/5/2021   Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou and welcome to Term 2! Our team looks forward to hosting groups, whether taking part in our Education Experience, onsite Digital Learning, or Virtual Experience. About 3400 students of all ages from around New Zealand visited in Term 1; we appreciate the variety of groups, no two visits are ever the same and we often learn new things too. Here we share snapshots from a busy Term 1.

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Pakaraka School

13/4/2021  We love seeing children’s curiosity sparked as they explore the unique taonga at Waitangi. Pakaraka School students recently enjoyed a busy morning of hands-on learning with our team. A signing activity with a feather quill pen had a special connection to their area. Hōne Wiremu Heke Pōkai, first rangatira to sign Te Tiriti/The Treaty, was born in Pakaraka, Bay of Islands.

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Ōpononi Area School

6/4/2021  This awesome group recently visited to experience Waitangi, the place, and critically engage with Waitangi, Te Tiriti /The Treaty. As we explore Waitangi’s stories and taonga, our programmes encourage students to reflect on, analyse, interpret, and evaluate events before and after the Treaty. This leads to thoughtful questions, open communication, and an ability to see events from multiple perspectives.

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He Kaupapa Waka

29.3.2021  Education groups with a focus on waka and navigation have been appreciating the multi-sensory He Kaupapa Waka exhibition. The powerful images of the fleet of waka, kaihoe (paddlers) and spectators, were captured by photographer Te Rawhitiroa Bosch at Waitangi Day 2020. Some of our visiting students feature in photos; there is also the story of a local school’s special connection to our Prime Minister.

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26/3/2021 Tūrangawaewae – a Māori concept meaning ‘a place to stand’, to belong, our foundation and place in the world. Part of Kamo Intermediate School’s learning focus for recent visits, Waitangi is a significant tūrangawaewae. Te Rau Aroha is important for these students, with its focus on the A Company of the 28 (Māori) Battalion. Many feel pride in personal connections to the soldiers honoured in Whare Maumahara.


First flag referendum

20/3/2021  187 years ago today, 25 northern rangatira and hundreds of supporters gathered here on the Treaty House lawn in 1834 for our first flag referendum. The chiefs voted for NZ’s first national flag, commonly known as Te Kara. Raised on a kauri spar Hōne Heke gave to James Busby, it was accompanied by a 21-gun salute from HMS Alligator in the Bay. Important to history and identity, did you know it’s still a legal flag of NZ?

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A busy Term 1

18/3/2021  Our team has hosted about 1900 visitors so far this term; a highlight for student groups is running to where Te Tiriti o Waitangi was first signed and picturing that colourful day. The Pou Kara (Flagstaff) is an important part of visits and an awesome spot to enjoy the view over the Bay. Our educators bring local and wider history to life, sharing stories of key past people and events.

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Felling the flag

11/3/2021  176 years ago today, Hōne Heke chopped down the British flag on Maiki Hill above Kororāreka (Russell) for the fourth time. First felled on 8 July 1844, it was the first serious challenge to the Crown after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.  Felled again on 10 and 19 January 1845, the final blow on 11 March 1845 was the cause and target of the attack on Kororāreka that launched the Northern War.

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Te Rā O Ngā Tamariki

7/3/2021   “Take care of our children. Take care of what they hear, take care of what they see, take care of what they feel. For how the children grow, so will the shape of Aotearoa.”    Legendary Māori leader, Dame Whina Cooper’s powerful quote is fitting to mark Children’s Day in New Zealand today and significant for educators helping students unravel our history.


Treaty travels

17/2/2021  Te Tiriti o Waitangi is not one document but is made up of 9 sheets; 8 in te reo Māori, one in English. One Māori-language sheet is printed, the other sheets all handwritten. After the first signing at Waitangi, the treaty sheets were taken to about 50 gatherings over 7 months. About 540 Māori rangatira signed in total, many did not. So who signed and where and when?


The first signing

6/2/2021  181 years ago today over 40 rangatira first signed our founding document – it would have been a colourful day, waka and boats streaming across the Bay bringing the Māori chiefs, missionaries, British officials, traders and settlers. Waitangi Festival 2021 at the Treaty Grounds had various events marking the day. In 1934, the first commemorations began, with memorable milestones and moments since then.

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Hobson's treaty mission

29/1/2021  Auckland/Northland Anniversary Day commemorates Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson’s arrival in the Bay of Islands on 29 January 1840.  His mission – to negotiate a Treaty with the Māori chiefs on behalf of the British Crown, the first step towards setting up a British colony in Aotearoa New Zealand.


He waka hourua

26/1/2021   A few harakeke leaves and dried flower stalks plus engineering skills were enough to launch a fleet of fine, seaworthy waka hourua at Waitangi recently! Proud captains had great fun sailing their double-hulled canoes, built using only natural materials and tools at our holiday activity. Traditionally Māori built floats or rafts out of dried harakeke stalks; waka were essential for water travel and are still important to express identity.

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All fun and games!

19/1/2021  It was all fun and games at our holiday activity exploring ngā taonga tākaro (traditional Māori games). Highly valued, games were an integral part of learning for all ages. This contrasts with contemporary Western culture, which tends to view games as frivolous; a form of entertainment or distraction from ‘real’ learning or ‘serious’ work. Developing physical and mental dexterity, they also shared traditional knowledge and values.

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Fantastic flax

13/1/2021  We had some wonderful creations at our holiday activity on raranga (Māori weaving). When the ancestors of Māori arrived, their garments made from tropical Polynesian plants were too thin for our cooler climate. Maybe they had a few chilly winters as use of harakeke (New Zealand flax) developed. The art of weaving grew; a way to pass on culture. Flax trading wove together Māori and European arrivals to these shores in the early 19th century.


Māori military genius

8/1/2021  January 11 marks 175 years since The Battle of Ruapekapeka, final chapter of the Northern War (1845 -1846) where dissatisfaction over the Treaty turned to war. One of New Zealand’s largest and most complex pā (fortified position), Ruapekapeka shows Māori innovation in military techniques. Over 1600 British troops and their Māori allies were pitted against 400 Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Hine fighters in an inconclusive battle lasting several weeks.

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Summer fun 2021!

5/1/2021   Summer’s in full swing as families from near and far soak up Waitangi’s unique beauty, culture and history. Our education team has some fun pop-up activities lined up to entertain tamariki. Between January 7-28 (Tuesdays and Thursdays) we will set up crafty creations and traditional Māori games on the grounds. We welcome all families to join in anytime between 11.30am – 1pm. Nau mai haere mai!  Read more for full programme details.

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Meri Kirihimete 2020!

22/12/2020  The Waitangi education team wishes all teachers, students and whānau a very Merry Christmas 2020 and a peaceful, happy and healthy 2021!  It has certainly been a challenging year for us all with the ups and downs of the Covid-19 situation, but we’ve made it to the end of the year, thankful for how we’ve come through. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in our various Education Programmes during the year. Our team looks forward to an awesome 2021!

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Ngā taonga tākaro

15/12/2020   Over 300 awesome teachers, students and whānau from Morningside School in Whangārei took part in our Education Experience in Term 4. Ngā taonga tākaro (traditional Māori games) and waka were a big focus with lots of fun, hands-on learning. It’s wonderful that all students from foundation level up to Year 6 had this shared experience; teachers at this school work collaboratively and can build on students’ knowledge across the school.

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Waitangi's special cloak

7/12/2020   Hurupaki Primary School, Whangarei, recently visited us over a few days with different classes to learn about Māori culture and New Zealand history. Their school is at the foot of a mountain known as Hurupaki, which means to cover with a kākahu (cloak). Waitangi’s rich stories and taonga weave together to form a kākahu wrapping around us all, connecting us and protecting that which is important and unique to Aotearoa New Zealand.

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NZ Settlements Act

3/12/2020     On this day in 1863, the New Zealand Settlements Act was passed, an innocent -sounding piece of legislation with devastating effects for many Māori communities, still felt 157 years later. Referring to introducing new settlers onto the lands, its real purpose was raupatu, widespread land confiscations. In the Government’s view, this was punishment for “rebellion’” against the Crown; in the tribes’ views, punishment for defending their homelands.

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Window to the past

30/11/2020  What would the Busby children have thought if they’d known their home would become New Zealand’s most-visited historic house? That thousands of children over time would stand in their bedroom and wonder what life was like then. Paeroa Christian School Year 6-8 students got a real sense of the past as they explored the Treaty House, which tells the story of James and Agnes Busby and their family, as well as important events leading to the Treaty.


A close connection

26/11/2020      Kaikohe East School has a very close connection to Waitangi. The district of Kaikohe was hometown to Hōne Heke Pōkai, the first rangatira to sign Te Tiriti/The Treaty here at Waitangi on the 6th February 1840. Year 6 students enjoyed our He Tohu activity, designing their own unique tohu (mark or sign) to represent themselves and signing a class sheet using a feather quill pen just like the Māori rangatira (chiefs) did when they signed Te Tiriti.

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Whangarei Boys' High

23/11/2020   Whangarei Boys’ High Year 10 students recently took part in our Education Experience over a week of visits.  They made the most of exploring both our museums to research their topic. In between enlightenment about some of our history that’s  ‘just not cricket’, they enjoyed the view, some sunshine and a spot of cricket. Students picture the events of the past as they look across to the town of Russell (Kororāreka) where the Northern War began in March 1845

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Opua School visits

9/11/2020   Our neighbours from just around the bay visited recently; they could have just about paddled here!  Opua School Year 2 students enjoyed a morning of fun hands-on learning and local stories. Opua’s basin and wharf are situated at the junction of the Veronica Channel, Waikare Inlet and Kawakawa River – traditionally an important network of waters for waka to travel on; the waka here at Waitangi were a big focus for this group during their Education Experience.


NZDF Youth Challenge

5/11/2020    The NZ Defence Force Youth Development Unit recently visited Waitangi as part of a yearly Adventure Challenge. A big highlight for them was exploring some of the personal stories of soldiers and their families in Te Rau Aroha museum. We always look forward to a rousing farewell haka from the NZDF youth and these awesome young men and women from Tikipunga High, Onehunga High, Kelston Boys High and Tāmaki College did not disappoint!

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An independent nation

28/10/2020   185 years ago today, in 1835, 34 rangatira (chiefs) met at James Busby’s Waitangi home to sign a document declaring this nation’s independence. He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (known in English as the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand) arose from concerns about the intentions of the ever-increasing European settlers. Britain’s official recognition of this document was significant for both Māori and British.

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Ngā Kiri Kapia

21/10/2020   Kauri gum has special significance for A Company, 28 (Māori) Battalion, nicknamed ‘ngā Kiri Kapia’ (the Gum Diggers). Many people in the North used to make a living digging up and selling the solidified resin from kauri trees. Te Rau Aroha museum commemorates the 720 ‘Gum Diggers’ who served with the A company in World War II, giving a glimpse of the wartime lives and experiences of these men.

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A busy Term 4

16/10/2020   Our education team looks forward to a busy Term 4 and meeting with the many school groups booked in for our various programmes. The first group to participate in our Education Experience this term came all the way from Queenstown – Year 10 students from Wakatipu High School.  They all agreed that being at Waitangi made history much “more real” for them as they pictured life in the Bay of Islands leading up to the signing of The Treaty/Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

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Our native manu

7/10/2020   Our Holiday Programme this week is for the birds!  We’re learning about our unique native manu; some of these beautiful birds are often spotted here at Waitangi Treaty Grounds. We love families to drop in and get crafty together; we’ve been creating manu mobiles, masks, bird-feeders, collages and keyrings. Definitely some future ornithologists among our visitors!  Check out some of our manu activities and also links to give them a go at home.

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Term 3 snapshots

30/9/2020     We hosted a range of groups in Term 3 and look forward to a busy and more ‘normal’ Term 4!  Students engage with NZ history through our personalised hands-on Education Programmes.  Each group brings unique perspectives, gaining a deeper understanding of not only our history,  but also themselves and others. Thank you all for visiting; we love the new things we learn from you too. Take a look at some of our awesome visitors!


Te Tiriti in NZSL

24/9/2020    Te Wiki o te Reo TuriNew Zealand Sign Language Week, falls within Mahuru Māori. Over time many committed supporters have worked hard for both languages to be officially recognised and become part of everyday use. Did you know that the Treaty of Waitangi has been translated into 30 of the languages spoken in New Zealand, with NZSL the only one to have a Māori version, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, translation? 


Give us a sign!

21/9/2020  New Zealand Sign Language Week is a chance for the Deaf community to celebrate their language and culture and for everyone to learn some signing. NZSL reflects our culture with signs for Māori words and concepts which cannot be found in other sign languages. NZSL has been one of the country’s official languages since 2006, with more than 20 000 New Zealanders using te reo turi daily (2013 Census).

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Te Whārikī

20/9/2020   It’s said that if you want to know a culture, know their proverbs. Ngā whakataukī  are an integral part of the rich oral history of te Reo Māori; their insightful life lessons inspire reflection and personal growth. Many refer to connection with others. Te Kōngahu Museum ends with a whakatauki alongside a special pounamu kōhatu (greenstone boulder) – Te Whārikī kia mōhio ai tātou ki a tātou – The Tapestry of understanding. It embodies the weaving together of peoples and understandings in Aotearoa.


Our Māori placenames

16/9/2020  Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – a time to celebrate the richness of the Māori language in all its forms, including our Māori placenames which create a striking snapshot of New Zealand history and geography. They tell tales of romance, war, travel and discovery. Aotearoa has the record for the longest placename in the world, which tells quite a story.  One of the stories behind the name Waitangi  is a tale of romance and legacy – the story of Maikuku and Huatakaroa, with a little help from a taniwha!

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Kia kaha te reo Māori!

15/9/2020  Te Wiki o te Reo Māori celebrates te reo Māori, a taonga that gives New Zealand its distinct and unique cultural identity. The often poetic karakia (incantations and prayers) are a rich part of the language. Used to invoke spiritual guidance and protection, to begin and end ceremonies, as ritual cleansing and to encourage good outcomes, modern karakia are blend of Christian and traditional influence.

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One in a million

12/9/2020  Te Wiki o te reo Māori starts with a defining moment -Te Wā Tuku Reo Māori /Māori Language Moment, with the goal of one million of us using te reo Māori at the same time. No matter where you’re from or how well you speak, play your part to strengthen te reo Māori.  Celebrate with waiata, kōrero, tākaro, pānui, ako, me whakarongo. Join the Māori Language Moment – be part of the journey to reach a million speakers by 2040!

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Carvers at work

3/9/2020  Students on our Education Experience sometimes visit our Carving Studio to learn more about the art and tradition of whakairo (carving). Our kaiwhakairo (carvers) are always keen to share their knowledge and artworks, answer questions and perhaps inspire future budding kaiwhakairo!  Carving is a celebrated expression of both storytelling and art in Māori culture and can be appreciated in many forms throughout the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.


Hongi's haerenga

31/8/2020   200 years ago, renowned Bay of Islands leader Hongi Hika and his relation Waikato travelled to Britain with Hongi’s friend, the missionary Thomas Kendall. The main purpose of this 1820 haerenga (journey) was to meet with King George IV.  “How d’ye do, Mr King George”, the chiefs greeted him, to which he replied, “How d’ye do Mr King Hongi ; Mr King Waikato”.  Can you imagine what a stir the two New Zealanders would have caused in Britain’s high society?

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Sharing our history

25/8/2020   Teaching history through factual content such as dates and events, can be meaningless for students unless put in context and viewed as part of the larger historical forces at work. The stories told in Te Rau Aroha museum help students to understand the connections between our past and the present, and to imagine possible futures. They recognise that they have a role and responsibility to consciously define this shared future.

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Too late for the French

21/8/2020   This week in NZ history: 17 August 1840 sees the arrival of the French ship Comte de Paris, at Akaroa on the South Island. Carrying the first French migrants, its mission was to found a settlement based on a dubious 1838 land purchase. It was too late; they found the Union Jack flying over Akaroa. There would be no colony under French rule. After negotiations with the British and local Māori, the French were allowed to stay and the settlement prospered. Today it retains its strong French heritage.

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Sharing our stories online

17/8/2020   We have to admit that nothing can replace actually coming to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds!  Soaking up the unique beauty, culture and history of Waitangi is very special for our visiting classes. But if you can’t get here just yet,  our education team would still love to share some of our stories with you in an interactive Virtual Experience. Choose from 3 topics that encourage students to think critically about our history.


First mission school

12/8/2020   On this day in 1816, the first mission school opens at the Church Missionary Society (Anglican) station in Rangihoua, Bay of Islands. The first schoolmaster, Thomas Kendall, was taught his first Māori by Tuai, of Bay of Islands hapū, Ngāre Raumati. Tuai’s teachings in Sydney 1813, led to Kendall  publishing the first book to use the Māori language in 1815; he used this book in his school.

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Digital learning

9/8/2020   Following lockdown, a big focus for New Zealand schools is wellbeing – important to this is knowing your identity. We recently had a Year 3 / 4 class from a Northland school in our Raranga Matihiko digital learning programme; they were learning more about where their ancestors came from and how they migrated to Aotearoa, to get a better understanding of themselves. They explored digital tools as part of this, 3D printing some of their ideas.

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This week in NZ history

6/8/2020  1st August 1987 finally saw te reo Māori recognised as an official language of New Zealand under the Māori Language Act. This was the result of a long struggle by Māori and their allies. The historic 1985 Te Reo Māori claim was one of the earliest Waitangi Tribunal claims, asserting that te reo Māori (the Māori language) was a taonga (treasure) the Crown should protect under the Treaty of Waitangi.

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Bringing history to life

29/7/2020    Hukerenui School recently took part in our Education Experience and enjoyed exploring the Treaty House, imagining life in this house for James and Agnes Busby and their six children. James arrived in the Bay of Islands 187 years ago as the first British Resident. History comes to life as students stand in the Parlour where the Treaty was drafted and picture James, quill pen in hand, at a very different table from the one here today.


Our three capitals

26/7/2020    New Zealand has had three capital cities – first Okiato (Old Russell) in the Bay of Islands from 1840, then a year later, Auckland, and finally Wellington. Today marks 155 years since a session of parliament officially met in Wellington for the first time on 26 July 1865.  Our capital’s moves were in large part directed by the rapidly expanding colony, influx of settlers and discovery of gold on the South Island in the 1860’s.

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'Our Matariki' snapshots

20/7/2020     A big thank you to everyone who came along; over the week, about 150 children and their families joined us to learn about Matariki and enjoy fun activities, games and stories. Great to meet so many lovely tamariki and their whānau, both local and from all over New Zealand!  We love seeing families get creative, play traditional games with new friends or just chill out in our relaxed space during a busy visit to Waitangi. We captured some moments to share.


Capture the light!

16/7/2020   Our holiday activity today is to create a tealight star jar lamp.  Matariki is a time to remember loved ones we’ve lost. Let the whētu shine out in their memory. You can also light it to celebrate the now, chase away the darkness and bring sweet dreams. Place it in your garden to twinkle away at night. Tomorrow’s the last day of our Matariki Holiday programme and we’ll make constellation viewers. Try some activities at home:  Matariki ideas and activities


Te Kāpehu Whetū

15/7/2020    As part of Matariki activities, children explored early Polynesian navigation and Te Kāpehu Whetū – the Māori Star Compass. The waka (canoe) in the open ocean uses the horizon as a compass, the 360 degrees around it divided into quarters named after the four winds. The full horizon is divided into 32 different whare (houses). Their location depends on where the sun, moon and stars set and rise. Navigators followed stars such as Matariki to guide them across the Pacific.


Celebrate Matariki!

12/7/2020   Happy New Year! 13th July 2020 officially marks Matariki, the Māori New Year. It’s the first day of this week’s holiday programme so bring the kids, get creative with stars and learn about the Matariki family. Each star has a unique meaning and gift for our world and reminds us that we too have gifts to share. Gifts like working together with others, appreciating and caring for each other and our environment. Matariki encourages us to hope and dream, plan and set goals. Even wish on a star!

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July Holiday Programme - Our Matariki

7/7/2020   Join our education team for a week of Matariki-themed activities from July 13-17. Come along with your whānau anytime between 10am–1pm, learn about Matariki and get creative!  This year Matariki, the Māori New Year is officially celebrated on July 13. It is a time rich in tradition when whānau (family) gathered to remember the ancestors, reflect on the past, celebrate the present and plan for the future. Find full details: July Holiday Programme

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Explore Ngātokimatawhaorua in 3D!

3/7/2020    Ngātokimatawhaorua, the world’s largest ceremonial waka taua (war canoe) was built for the 100-year commemorations of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  Keep reading to explore our waka in 3D!  Also check out our inspiring Waka Inquiry Units designed by our education team to support learning about historic and cultural importance, and designing and building of waka.

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Resources for Matariki

1/7/2020   Our education team has created two Inquiry Units to support teachers, students and whānau as they explore Matariki, the Māori New Year. Students can choose from a variety of practical and digital activities and discover how Matariki was celebrated in the past and how we can celebrate today. Keep reading to follow the links and download our inspiring Matariki teacher resources.

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Sancta Maria College visit

22/6/2020  History students from Sancta Maria College in Auckland visited Waitangi as part of a haerenga (journey) to see key historical sites relating to the Northern Wars. At the Flagstaff we explored the significance of Te Kara, New Zealand’s first flag. Students also explored crucial differences between the Māori and English versions of Te Tiriti/The Treaty in Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi.

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Welcome back to education groups!

19/6/2020  Our education team is pleased to be running onsite Education Programmes once again!  Students from Bay of Islands College, Kawakawa, spent time in our new museum, Te Rau Aroha, researching the role their tīpuna (ancestors) played during WW1 in the Māori Pioneer Battalion and WW2 in the 28 (Māori) Battalion. There were some special moments of connection and pride for these Year 11 students.



Tītokowaru's War

9/6/2020   152 years ago today, on 9th June 1868, Tītokowaru’s War began in South Taranaki, led by Ngā Ruahine leader Riwha Tītokowaru. His campaign to resist land confiscations during the wider New Zealand Wars almost brought the British government to its knees as he won a series of battles against the much larger colonial forces.


Raranga Matihiko TV

The Raranga Matihiko team from Waitangi, Te Papa, MTG Hawke’s Bay and Waikato Museum have been working hard over the last 4 weeks to produce 16 episodes of Raranga Matihiko TV which will be broadcast over the next 2 weeks on the Home Learning TV| Pāpa Kainga TV channel.


Code Tupaia's Journey

Our last post was about Tupaia and his travels from Ra’iātea to Aotearoa on James Cook’s ship The Endeavour. Today our digital activity is to code Tupaia’s journey using Scratch. Scratch is a free block-coding programme where you can create animations and games and share them with others around the world.

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Cook's Endeavour or Tupaia's Ship?

Did you know that without a certain wise Polynesian, our history could be quite different today? Tupaia was on the Endeavour , the ship commanded by Captain James Cook, and without him Cook may have never found New Zealand in 1769.  So how did this extraordinary high priest, navigator, mapmaker and translator come to be aboard?


Memory Bottle activity

In our last post, which looked at the arrival of Marion du Fresne to the Bay of Islands, we mentioned that his crew are said to have buried a bottle containing a declaration of possession. The French reportedly named this land France Australe but this ‘message in a bottle’ has never been found and it sparked an idea for an activity today.

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The 'Tribe of Marion'

The month of May marks a few notable anniversaries in the Bay of Islands.  In May 1772, 248 years ago, 2 ships arrived in the Bay of Islands under the command of French explorer, Marion du Fresne.


Arrival of James Busby

May 5th 2020, marks 187 years since James Busby sailed into the Bay of Islands in 1833 as New Zealand’s first British Resident. Busby was the answer to an 1831 petition for protection against lawlessness signed by 13 rangatira and sent to King William IV.

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He Waka eke Noa

March 28 2020   Kia ora from our education team to teachers, students and whānau. He waka eke noa derives from the Māori whakataukī (proverb) and refers to working in unity and leaving no-one behind – it fits well with the journey we’re all on at this time.

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Holiday Programme -Taonga Tākaro Tākoha

Many local and international families enjoyed our school holiday programme themed around Māori treasures, games and gifts of the past, re-imagined with a contemporary twist. Through fun practical activities, families learnt about the significance of some of the art, culture and traditions in Te Ao Māori.

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Meri Kirihimete from the Ed Team!

The Waitangi Education Team wishes all teachers, students and whānau a very Merry Christmas 2019! Thank you to everyone who has taken part in our various Education Programmes during the past year – not only from throughout New Zealand but also from all around the world.

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Wakanui Meets Our Waka Nui!

Wakanui seemed the perfect name for a school to have at our waka nui – Ngātokimatawhaorua, the world’s largest waka taua (war canoe). At the waka, Year 7 and 8 students from Wakanui School, Ashburton, explored the stories our waka and whakairo (carvings)

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Exhibition - A Digital Tapestry of Tales

November 20 2019   This colourful, interactive exhibition was created by students using a range of digital tools and storytelling techniques to share their understanding of NZ’s unique history, traditions and culture.  Be drawn into tales of adventure, conflict, love and loss, taonga, natural phenomena, community issues and dreams for the future.

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He Whakaputanga - Declaration of Independence

October 28 2019   In 1835 on October 28, 34 northern rangatira signed He Whakaputunga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni, right here at the home of James Busby. This Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand declared New Zealand’s independence as a sovereign nation under the Māori chiefs.


Inspired by nature

October 16 2019   Over 200 children and their families enjoyed our Holiday programme,  getting imaginative with dried plants and flowers, to create special taonga like bookmarks,  cute creatures, suncatchers, badges, candle surrounds and jewellery. Our  programme linked to our current exhibition, The Divine Remains, a series of striking photographic images of colourful flowers by artist, David Lupton. We were extremely lucky to have David with us at Waitangi for the week’s activities.