Why teach Māori History?

When teachers encourage students to learn about where they live and create opportunities to link their community to significant events, learners start to understand they are part of a larger story, they are a part of history and that they make history every day.


Māori history encompasses the complete history of peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand, from the earliest Polynesian navigators, to those who interacted with English colonists, to the occupiers of land and the settlers of grievances, through to the movers, the shakers, and the everyday people of our communities today. 

When young New Zealanders, Māori and non-Māori, place themselves in the broad historical past of Aotearoa New Zealand, this helps to shape their sense of who they are, and how they and their ancestors came to be here.

The why and how of teaching Māori history – Dr Pita Sharples (6:33)


Māori history is for all – Professor Piri Sciascia (2:07)


To know one’s history is to know oneself – Deanne Thomas (2:08)


Encourage your students to view Māori history as a continuous thread, with contemporary issues directly linked to the big events of the past. Remind them that what they do today is history tomorrow.


The Treaty of Waitangi in schools today – Professor Piri Sciascia (7:32)


Working with iwi (7:05)

Whatever your Māori History content and context, the first step in building a successful Māori History curriculum is collaborative engagement with local iwi and hapū. Iwi and hapū are the history experts in your local area, and the holders of important people and stories from the past, as well as the history makers of the future. This relationship needs time and energy, but solidifying a school iwi relationship gives a depth, authenticity and relevance for your students that they could not get from anywhere else.


 Place based education (17:49)

Place based education is the immersion of learning in place. In the context of Māori History, this may be the place where your students are now, or the place they whakapapa to. The stories and histories relating to your school’s geographic location will assist you to instill a deeper sense of personal identity and belonging for every student. Centring history learning in a familiar space allows assumptions to be challenged and new perspectives to be explored. While you may choose to show the links between local, national and global history, place based history also acknowledges the different experience of Māori across Aotearoa, and allows students to explore local tikanga and the events that have shaped their own community.


 Local Histories – a student’s perspective (1:56)

Arapeta Latus, a senior student at Whanganui City College, talks about the importance of hearing local history from local people, if possible by visiting the sites of significance. He discusses how important this was for him as a young Māori growing up in a city where there was early conflict. Arapeta suggests that teachers build a relationship with local marae to ask kaumātua and kuia to help in setting up the process for hearing these important stories from the past.


Broadening teachers’ perspectives (2:27)

History teacher, Paul Enright, outlines the importance of teachers working with iwi and local communities to develop an understanding of the differing perspectives on local history. 


 Connecting students to the world through history (15:41)

Catherine Forster, history teacher at Naenae College, talks about how important it is to teach Māori history.