17 Mar 2022

Aotearoa New Zealand history curriculum launches

12:04 pm on 17 March 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Ministers Kelvin Davis, Jan Tinetti, and Aupito William Sio launched the Aotearoa New Zealand histories curriculum at Sylvia Park School.

They made statements after the curriculum, Te Takanga o Te Wā, was launched at the Mount Wellington school this morning.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Sylvia Park School where she and ministers Kelvin Davis, Jan Tinetti, and Aupito William Sio launched the Aotearoa New Zealand histories curriculum

Photo: RNZ / Nick Munro

Ardern said the teaching of the history curriculum will formally begin in 2023.

"With all of the disruptions of Covid there was a keenness for them to have a bit more time and so that's why the formal enactment begins next year," she said.

Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti says she is excited schools will have the rest of the year to prepare and the government will have time to prepare the resources to back it up.

She says the refresh of the school curriculums is scheduled over the next five years and it will be progressed in stages. The social studies curriculum is now out for review as well.

"Also the vision for young people and this is an exciting part of the curriculum, this is the first time in this country that we've got a vision for young people that is created by young people."

Ardern says it feels like a really important day. Hearing the children speaking with confidence and pride about what they had learned, and the stories and history they had learned, has moved her, she says.

She says the recognition of Tuia 250 was a change to rightly put emphasis on the navigational history of New Zealand.

"Yes, learning about James Cook's journey here, but also learning about the navigation that came with double-hulled waka prior to that. And children and young people learning the skills that it took in order to do that."

The curriculum has taken three years to develop, she says, a long time.

"We took our time because yes some of these conversations did bring out the different views that people had about what parts of our history should there be emphasis on, what should be included.

"For me though, one of the most important things about New Zealand history in schools is it does give us a better understanding of one another, through learning more about Māori, about the migrant history of Pasifika, our Asian communities. Across the board it's all part of who we are and it's all part of this curriculum.

She says there is professional development in support of the curriculum. Tinetti says there are also models of resourcing already available, with models for instance including how libraries can support schools in teaching the new curriculum.

Ardern says not every student has had the same opportunity to learn about New Zealand history in school as she did.

"And more consistently. It would be very rare to find a country that didn't teach its own history so I think this is about New Zealand joining the pack and being proud to teach our kids about where we've come from in all its parts - those stories that are harder for us to learn and hear and those stories we feel proud of too."

On the latest Covid-19 outbreak, Ardern says over the coming week Cabinet will be looking at all the Covid-19 settings. As we come off the peak of Omicron, it's believed the mandates and vaccine passes will not need to be used as widely, along with possible changes to the traffic light settings and system.

She says we are waiting for the lag in hospitalisations that we would expect after the peak in cases.

"Cases come first, hospitalisations follow, sadly. If someone is going to be so gravely unwell from Covid that they lose their life that then comes thereafter. We're using hospitalisations as a guide as to whether or not we really have hit our peak. So a few more days will give us the confidence to know whether we have in Auckland but certainly there's still a bit of time to run in the rest of the country."

Ardern says the ministry has been in daily contact with the DHBs and has been for some time to assess workforce pressures.

"We're very aware for instance of the pressures that have been in place in Auckland. Now as it moves through the country we're seeing it elsewhere, there are contingencies in place but sadly it won't for now stop the workload that we have on our healthcare workforce."

She says that's part of why the government is being careful about the removal of restrictions.

She says the government may want to keep vaccine passes in mind should they be needed again in future, and will be thinking about how to keep that option "in the back pocket".

On the Ukraine-Russia war, Ardern says the government is awaiting its advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the specific application of sanctions against individuals, assets and entities linked to Russia's war on Ukraine.

"We expect that shortly."

She says there were a suite of options when it comes to responding to the invasion. She says very few countries if any have taken the step of expelling an ambassador.

"One of the reasons for that is it often leads to the loss of your own representation in the country. When you have citizens in Russia as we do it means we essentially become cut off from being able to assist them."

The new curriculum was officially announced last February, following up on a pledge in September 2019 that history would be compulsory in all New Zealand schools.

The government finished consultation over the curriculum in June, with teachers saying it would help close "woeful" knowledge gaps on the country's past.

That was after criticism by an expert panel which found the draft curriculum failed to include topics like women, labour and economics, and the 600 years of pre-colonial Māori life.

The changes are part of the government's attempt to make it clearer what children will be expected to know in each subject, with reworks of the English, maths and science curriculums expected to follow over the next four years.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs