Education Minister says it's 'a damn good thing' for students to learn influence of colonialism

Source: 1News

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said it will be a "a damn good thing" that students could have an understanding of New Zealand history and discrimination that led to disadvantage. 

ACT's Chris Baillie was questioning Hipkins in the House today about the draft curriculum that is currently in consultation around New Zealand history to be taught in school. 

Baillie asked, "How will one of the three big ideas in the draft history curriculum, that Māori history is the continuous history of New Zealand, recognise the value of every New Zealander?"

The big three ideas include Māori history being the foundational and continuous history of Aotearoa New Zealand, colonisation and its consequences have been central to New Zealand history for the past 200 years and continue to influence all aspects of society, and the course of history has been shaped by the exercise and effects of power.

"As a pākehā New Zealander, I do not feel the slightest bit threatened by Māori history being taught in our schools, and it is something that I hope my kids will have the advantage of learning about," Hipkins said. 

Baillie asked what Hipkins would say to teachers who believed that the idea "that colonisation continues to influence all aspects of our society is incorrect and divisive?"

The minister responded: "I want to ensure that young people in New Zealand understand all of our history — the good, the bad and the ugly — and a recognition of the fact that we have passed down, through generations, discrimination that has led to some New Zealanders being disadvantaged in their educational journey, some New Zealanders not receiving the same opportunities as others," Hipkins said. 

"If our young people leave school with an understanding of that, that will be a damn good thing."

ACT leader David Seymour later tweeted, "The Govt’s NZ history curriculum threatens to indoctrinate students in left-wing ideas about colonialism, the welfare state, gender identity, and ‘cultural appropriation.’

"It needs a radical overhaul."

The curriculum will be updated in 2022, with an expectation Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories would be taught as part of the local curriculum and marau ā-kura throughout compulsory curriculum from 2022.

It would be a part of history in social sciences, which is already compulsory from years 1-10. It would be optional from year 11. 

The seven themes agreed by the Government last year were: the arrival of Māori to New Zealand, first encounters and early colonial history, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, immigration and colonisation of New Zealand and the New Zealand Wars, national identity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, New Zealand’s role in the Pacific and Aotearoa New Zealand in the late 20th century and the evolution of a national identity with cultural plurality. 

The Government announced in September 2019 that every school and kura would teach New Zealand history by 2022.

When the draft curriculum was released, Hipkins said students across New Zealand would "explore the stories that are unique to us".

He gave the examples of students in Waikato learning about the invasion led by Governor George Grey, in Otago they may learn about the region’s Māori and Chinese heritage and in Porirua the students could learn about how Pacific people had influence on the area’s culture. 

Hipkins also said students in Te Tai Tokerau may be interested in learning about the battle that took place in Ruapekapeka during the Northern Wars in the 1800s. 

A service was held today to mark the 175th anniversary of the battle, where about 20 Māori and twelve British fatal casualties were remembered.