By way of background I studied “NZ History” at Victoria University of Wellington in the 1960s and have read other historians since including; James Belich, Michael King, Claudia Orange and specialised books by Ron Crosby and Vincent O’Malley.
History is about facts and context. If we think about the last 1000 years, much history is about war, slavery, domination of the masses by elites, food production and survival.
In the last six hundred years events were influenced by technology and industrial development. This allowed European countries to become colonisers of South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and no doubt also contributed to their sense of cultural superiority.
History is also contestable as the Ministry is finding with the reaction to the draft.
Having failed to teach NZ history properly in the last 50 years, it is important that the curriculum presents the most relevant facts and context, in order that our children can reach a balanced and informed view. It appears however those involved in drafting the curriculum, have decided to skip that stage and go straight to themes. This is a terrible mistake.
Key elements of a draft curriculum should include:
1. The polynesian migration to NZ about year 1200.
2. How the Maori lived and interacted with each other up to the arrival of Captain Cook in 1769.
3. How Maori and British people lived and interacted with each other up until 1840. This would have to include the Musket wars which were resulted in tens of thousands of Maori deaths and was a factor in the signing of the Treaty.
4. The arrival of mainly British people (also some Chinese) in the period up to 1900, and the pressure from them to acquire land, by one means or the other, including the land wars and unjustified confiscations.
5. The development of infrastructure (roads, ports and rail) and pastoral farming.
6. The improvements in life expectancy of all citizens up until 1900.
7. Constitutional developments and how NZ moved away from colonial status until it adopted the Statute of Westminister, and became a high quality democracy.
8. From the 1960s how Maori became more assertive and demanded and honouring of the Treaty. Explain the Treaty process.
If our children had a good grasp of the big picture, they would be better equipped to understand any post colonial themes developed by academics or others.