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NZ Histories: Two Terms Implementation

September 21, 2023

For our team, the introduction of ANZH to the New Zealand Curriculum has been one of the most exciting changes in our education system for some time: Teachers are now given a meaningful framework that sets out what history learning is expected at different ages, with plenty of opportunity to for schools to design their local curriculum, making the contexts or the knowledge students learn relevant to their local rohe. Gone are the days when all serious teaching of our histories was left to the Year 13 history teachers, with a token treaty unit at the beginning of Term 1 for the other year levels…

Any change to the curriculum adds to teachers’ workload, at least initially: There’s new professional learning, there are new units to design, there is a certain amount of trial and error involved as teachers work out what the new learning looks like. In the case of ANZH, there are some additional challenges thrown into the mix: Teaching contested histories attracts interest from schools’ local communities in a different way than say the teaching of Maths or Science might. More importantly though, schools must reach out to other experts and to mana whenua in particular, build a reciprocal relationship that ensures that multiple perspectives on local histories are being provided to ākonga.

For the Learning Team at Waitangi, the ANZH document provides us with a clear framework as well, where we can ensure we are not just supporting the classroom learning of visiting schools, we can also model to teachers what learning looks like at different levels, and provide the opportunity for teachers to observe this in action. The document and the accompanying resources also provide great food for thought: Two of the most commonly asked questions in our team are “is this our story to tell?”, and ”how will ākonga see the relevance of this for themselves today?”

What is our story to tell? As teachers, especially primary and intermediate teachers, we design and curate learning activities across the curriculum and for a broad range of ages and abilities. We tend to gather knowledge and create learning opportunities that allow our learners to engage with the content we provide them with. The ANZH curriculum document explicitly requires us to reach out to others, particularly mana whenua, so that eventually these groups share their stories with ākonga. This requires a whole new way of looking at planning: Relationship building takes time, and their content and stories are owned by these groups and are theirs to share, in their time.

Before you share a story that is not originally yours, ask yourself: Who owns this story, and are they able to share it with my learners? Or, have I been given permission to share their story? Do I understand the context around it, and can I do it justice? 

How will ākonga see the relevance of this for themselves today? It would be too easy to solely rely on the Ministry of Education having decided it is important to learn about our histories; ask yourself, why does learning about our histories matter to you?

In my view, learning about our histories helps us understand how we got to today, and it provides us with guidance about what to do in future - me tiro whakamuri, ki anga whakamua. When ākonga realise that their actions can make a difference to the now and the future, based on observations about the past, our histories become a living and relevant part of their learning.

Remember to work smarter, not harder: Keeping in mind that we are only beginning to implement this curriculum content, schools are not expected to have everything up and running just yet. Here are some of our recommendations for you to get started:

  1. Begin building relationships with mana whenua at a school level.
  2. Investigate what curriculum content you already cover: Use these Curriculum Cards or the curriculum document to help you align existing units, some of which might only require some tweaking.
  3. Rather than teaching new units all year long, the stages of learning allow you to spread the learning across two or even three years. Therefore you can begin with topics that you are more familiar with or have more resources for, giving you time to prepare for topics you are less familiar with.
  4. Integrate learning across the curriculum: Read and write with your students about our histories, create art works and drama, apply technology skills, learn waiata and karakia. Just like the three aspects UNDERSTAND, KNOW and DO interweave, so  can the learning areas. Find an example of histories learning across various strands of Te Whāriki here: Tuia Mātauranga and local histories | Te Whāriki Online
  5. Make use of Teaching Resources | Aotearoa NZ's Histories, Progression in Action examples on Te ao tangata | social sciences | Curriculum Refresh,  and other relevant resources shared by your colleagues across your Kāhui Ako
  6. Tap into your local community resources for expertise in your local histories, and for places of national significance, like the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, for your national contexts. 

As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can; and when you know better, do better”.

For support with your ANZH curriculum implementation,

please get in touch with our team via email at