The Government has recently released their draft New Zealand history curriculum, which has been circulated for public feedback. The main themes include the arrival of Māori, early colonial history, the Treaty of Waitangi, the New Zealand wars, and New Zealand's role in the Pacific.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins says that he wants all New Zealanders to have their say on the draft content and is hoping to hear from as many people as possible. The National Party’s spokesperson on Education, Paul Goldsmith, is also encouraging everyone to look at the proposals and submit on them, adding that the curriculum is "lacking in balance and needs revision”.
"The themes are mainly about identity and identity politics. That is part of our story - but there are other elements to New Zealand's history," Mr Goldsmith says.
"New Zealand is also one the oldest democracies in the world, with strong traditions of freedom and the rule of law – which is rare in this world. How did those institutions develop? Again, this is not a central theme."
Dr Michael Bassett, former Labour cabinet minister and distinguished historian, is also critical of the proposed history curriculum, saying that the content of the Ministry’s presentation is utterly depressing, and pointing out that important elements of New Zealand history are absent from the draft:
Dr Bassett: “Scratch the surface and it becomes clear that those driving the idea want to downplay the huge significance of the arrival of European culture in New Zealand. Rather, they intend to replace it with only partially accurate accounts of the difficulties Maori faced when brought into contact with a more developed and advanced culture”.
You can read more from Dr Bassett in his article ‘Labour's History Curriculum’
Roger Childs, columnist and author of several books, is undertaking an analysis of the draft curriculum. Read part one of his series of reviews, which was recently published in the Waikanae Watch: ‘The new NZ History Curriculum for schools Draft 1 – Proposals and Big Ideas’
The Ministry is seeking input from all schools and the public before the content is finalised. The opportunity to have a say runs until May 31. You can access the draft curriculum at: Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories in our national curriculum – Education in New Zealand