The new History curriculum for Aotearoa, announced in September 2019, has finally launched. The updated curriculum officially begins in 2023, and will see school children from years one to ten learning a more comprehensive history of Aotearoa.
Years one to three will focus on basic differences in the historical roles of Māori and Pākehā. Years four to six will focus on the cultural identities of Pacific and Māori people, and the difference between Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Treaty of Waitangi. High school students will shift their focus to different immigration communities.
The curriculum itself has taken three years to develop as conversations regarding its content went through multiple perspectives and viewpoints. A first year University of Auckland student who missed out on the curriculum, Kristen Emosi-Brown (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Pūkenga), said, “I just wish it was taught when I was in school. I’m more happy than jealous though, it’s better it starts now than never”. Kristen also said, “I hope it is done right, and not some whitewashed version of our people’s history”.
Some concerns have been raised over how the curriculum will be implemented, HĀ, an organisation that develops education programmes that teach the history of Aotearoa, told Craccum that “Most of our teachers want to do justice for our history and their students, but unfortunately, the curriculum doesn’t support teachers to manage their emotions, explore more appropriate pedagogy or engage with local knowledge holders.”
The updated curriculum which aims to highlight the diversity of Aotearoa has been opposed by right-wing parties. In a mid-March Newstalk ZB interview, ACT Leader David Seymour said the ‘idea’ “that colonisation ‘continue[s] to influence all aspects of New Zealand society’, is depressing and wrong”, which was originally stated by ACT’s Education spokesperson in a press release. UoA students expressed their anger at this attitude towards the new curriculum; in the words of Kristen, “David Seymour can fuck off.”