Teaching Māori histories: The New Zealand Tomorrow’s Schools reforms (1984-89) and the New Zealand history (curriculum) wars (1877-2019).

Year: 2019

Author: Manning, Richard

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation commences by providing a critical analysis of the status of Maori histories in New Zealand schools during the New Zealand Tomorrow’s Schools reforms period (1984-89). It will then consider the role of corporate lobbyists and media commentators in fuelling public resistance to the inclusion of Maori historical content in schools during the 1990s. Next, the 2002 ‘Tudor-Stuart England Day’ debate, prompted by allegations made by Professor James Belich, will be considered, especially in relation to responses from leading history teachers and the Ministry of Education.The Ministry of Education’s response will then be considered in relation to official responses to questions raised in a formal request for public information made later in 2005.

The New Zealand Government’s response to questions raised about the Otorohanga College (New Zealand Land Wars) petition in March2016 will also be considered. The status of Maori histories in New Zealand schools will, next, be considered in relation to current legislation and relevant official policy guidelines along with the concerns Manning and Cooper presented to the New Zealand government’s Maori Affairs Select Committee inquiry into ‘the teaching of New Zealand colonial histories’ (Manning & Cooper, 2018). Amongst other things, Manning Cooper (2018) were concerned that the New Zealand History Teachers’ Association (NZHTA) had likened the compulsory teaching of New Zealand’s colonial history to an ‘elephant in the room’, that nobody wanted to discuss. Manning and Cooper (2018) countered this argument by advising the New Zealand public that racism remains the real ‘elephant in the room’ that teachers and Crown officials continue to sidestep.

To conclude, this presentation will draw attention to the ongoing concerns of Manning and Cooper that: (i) Maori histories continue to be ‘side-stepped’ by teachers of history despite official guidelines requiring an ‘inclusive’ curriculum and, (ii) that racism remains a problem in many New Zealand schools and history classrooms resulting in the marginalization of Maori knowledge of place and past.It will also explain why Manning and Cooper (2019) remained concerned by the NZHTA’s (2019) petition to promote the teaching of ‘New Zealand colonial history’ (2019). This petition cited Manning and Cooper’s (2018) presentation to the Maori Affairs Select Committee to support its call to teach more ‘New Zealand’ history without adequately addressing their concern that Maori historical perspectives and content will remain submerged within the dominant culture’s prevailing narratives of ""our"" shared (New Zealand) history.