Broadening teachers’ perspectives

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.

Professional learning conversations

  1. Paul says that history is a construct. How can we we represent the past in the places where we live`  as part of the bigger themes we study in a formal history programme?

  2. Ngāi Tahu are insistent that Māori history that relates to their past needs to be told as much as possible by them. How can local people be heard in our places? How can this become a convention in our history programmes?

  3. What protocols and systems can we  put in place in our area to help facilitate a Māori history programme?

Well I think it's essential because the crucial thing to be reminded is that history is a construct and therefore it represents particular perspectives and points of view. And if you have a look at the sort of perspective that has been traditionally presented in the New Zealand history curricula and prescriptions, it’s been very much the colonial one – very much the dominant one and it's excluded so many other perspectives and voices. There’s this notion that somehow or other New Zealand history dates from 1769, and that it is seen in terms of colonial process. What we're seeing instead is, of course, that there are various other experiences and particularly through the relationship that we’ve been able to establish with Ngāi Tahu and the region here, we've been able to see the process of adaptation really – of cultural survival and cultural renaissance from the point of view of the people directly involved in it.

Ngāi Tahu came to us with open hearts and open hands but we've had to demonstrate that we intend to use this properly as we should, because we're getting a richness of information, of experience, of insight, that has not been available or made freely available before and it's being made freely available to us for the benefit of our students. And so therefore it requires us to be equally, open handed and open hearted about it.

I think – I hope it will be a whole lot of different things, where schools and communities are interacting and following their own paths but with – I suppose – with common objectives of making sure that these stories are told and valued and that everybody gets a much richer and deeper understanding of New Zealand's past.

I would hope that in the not-too-distant future what we'll see is a myriad of approaches as each community interacts with the schools – as they decide which stories are most resonant for their students and so on. So that even though there'll be common objectives, there will be individual and localised approaches.