Visiting sites is an important part of teaching Māori history

Cyril Gilroy talks about how important it is to visit the sites of places that are important to Māori and to hear the stories about these places from local people. Understanding why the land is so important and how connected Māori are to events from the past is an important part of teaching Māori history.


Key Idea

Educators need to work with iwi and local communities to hear local stories.


Professional learning conversations

  1. Visiting local sites of significance with kaumātua is a very powerful way to hear about the past. Field trips could be a critical part of learning about local history. Discuss how you would go about setting up field trips in your area.

  2. How does the Treaty fit into Māori history? Discuss how the Treaty is relevant to Māori today and to all New Zealanders?

Well I think it should be shared. Our young people, as you know, are our future, ae, and if we don't tell them and if we don't pass it on to them, they'll never know. What they'll hear is what they hear in schools, but they won't hear the history by not going there. They need to sort of hear it. And they also need to go to these places – go to places that are significant to us as people.

And if you go down to Omaui, where there used to be all rocks and now it’s full of sand and the whole ecosystem is changing, but the old history is still there but a whole lot of other things are changing in the meantime as well.

Now it's very important that our kids understand all these things and the histories around the area because our tūpuna’s – everybody's history, whether it be Māori or Pākehā, well, that’s going to be there forever, but hey, the places are changing economically and environmentally.

From a teacher’s perspective they need to see what they can talk about, but they also need to have day trips for their students to go and see how things are. And I think it’s understanding, for them they’ve got to understand the meaning of the Treaty, so that they can understand why culture, the Māori culture is part of us, is part of what we are. And if they really knew and learnt it, they'd understand why we dearly love the land and Ngāi Tahu starts it from the mountains to the sea and everything in between.

So that means that from the mountains down is we are looking after the whenua – right at the top right down to the sea and it's all our food chain.