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Post date: Thursday, 23 March 2023

How do our own identities shape our relationships to Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories?

By Nicola Bright (Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa) - Kairangahau Matua Māori 

Kua tae ki te wā! We’ve arrived at 2023 and from now on, all schools and kura are expected to deliver the new content for Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories and Te Takanga o te Wā. Many schools and kura have spent the last couple of years preparing for this, though some, especially Māori-medium kura, have long been incorporating histories into their local marau or curriculum.  

Our research team’s involvement with the new curriculum content began in 2021 with two reports we completed for the Ministry of Education, Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories: Findings from the public engagement on the draft curriculum content, and Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories and Te Takanga o te Wā: Classroom and Akomanga trialling of draft content. These reports provided many insights into people’s emotions, hopes, priorities, concerns and prejudices about our histories. For the most part, they showed that reactions to the new histories content from both Māori and non-Māori were very positive.

As our team launches into the first phase of our own research about Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories, we are conscious of our roles as Māori and non-Māori researchers and how identity influences the way we show up in this space. For us as researchers, it has been important to take time for whakawhanaungatanga, to get to know each other and share our motivations for being part of the research. Sharing our own aspirations for Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories, and how we expect our research to benefit ākonga, whānau and teachers, has helped our team feel more settled and connected. This strong relational foundation also makes it easier for us to have challenging conversations – to move through our discomfort and find ways forward together.  

Being Māori or non-Māori is likely to influence how teachers see themselves in relation to local histories. Perhaps similar conversations to ours will be happening in schools as teachers work out how they will position themselves, and their approaches to teaching the new histories curriculum content. 

In this first phase of our research, we are building relationships with schools that we will be working with as they learn about and then teach their local histories. One of the first things we’ll be doing is asking people about their aspirations for Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories – and how this new curriculum content might positively impact their lives and those of others. We are also interested in understanding the challenges ahead and ideas for addressing those challenges. It is an exciting time for Aotearoa, and we look forward to seeing the different ways that schools develop and deliver their local curriculum, and hearing about the critical conversations that will undoubtably accompany their efforts.  

Those who are interested in following or contributing to our research can sign up to our email list here

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