MPs at Waitangi talk colonial history in schools

By Talisa Kupenga

With a new year, comes a new challenge as history teachers call on the government to provide a full history in schools.

Shared history was a key topic discussed in speeches delivered at Waitangi’s Te Whare Runanga Marae which welcomed politicians in the lead-up to Waitangi Day.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, "There is the flexibility of schools to be able to determine elements of the curriculum, maybe lets look how widely it is being taught because we should know our own history."

The History Teachers Association has petitioned parliament to make NZ Māori and colonial history compulsory schools.  MPs at Waitangi told Te Kāea a collective approach was needed.

National Party Leader Simon Bridges says, "That would need to be fair and balanced.  Obviously it can't just simply be the view of Don Brash or on the other side of it, the view of a Māori radical.  It needs to be something that is factual but that teaches NZ children our history; including the role of our founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi."

Māori Education Minister Kelvin Davis says, "It's right to give the Māori version and other versions [of colonial history] but  I am of the opinion that the Māori version is the correct version."

Youth Minister Peeni Henare says a wider understanding of our history could realise the aspirations of partnership for those that signed the Treaty.

“I want a unified standard.  It is ad-hoc when it comes to how and what is taught in each area but we are all wanting the same thing; to teach children our history.”

Those at Waitangi told Te Kāea they want to tell their own histories and believe other iwi should also have the right to have their say.