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Professor Martin Devlin

The New Zealand Schools History Curriculum

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– a rare and wonderful opportunity for truth

By Professor Emeritus Martin H. Devlin ONZM



The preparation of a new curriculum concerning the history of New Zealand is an opportunity to present our young people with a true, comprehensive and accurate story of how our country became home to a wide range of immigrants over a period of some 800-900 years-a relatively short period of settlement, compared to most countries of the world. From the arrival of the first wave of immigrants from Eastern Polynesia around 1200AD up to the present, over 120 different identifiable cultural groups have arrived in New Zealand.

New Zealand, then, is a young, multicultural country which includes three islands, the North Island, the South Island (sometimes referred to as the Mainland) and Stewart Island. The Chatham Islands off the east coast of the South Island also form part of New Zealand

New Zealand is similar in land size to the United Kingdom, with a population approaching 5 million. Though small in numbers, New Zealand has contributed in many ways to world affairs especially in sport, the arts, peacemaking  and peacekeeping.

The pre-history of New Zealand, ie human habitation, is vague. However, with the arrival of Polynesian migrants in approximately 1200AD, a history can be identified, from Maori oral histories, from the documented records of various visitors and from scientific, archaeological and forensic evidence.

The draft curriculum of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories to be taught in schools from 2022  is focused primarily upon the history of the Maori peoples of New Zealand . However, from the late 17th century,  visitors from other parts of the world either visited, or stayed, resulting in a shared history up to the present day.

Initial reading of the draft curriculum indicates three main objectives:

  • the history of New Zealand will primarily be focused on Maori history
  • the new Histories in Schools curriculum will be taught within a te Ao Maori framework
  • these histories will focus on regional and local histories, suggesting a lesser focus on our national history

This pedagogy is a significant shift away from traditional approaches to the teaching of history in most other parts of the world. For the benefit of those to be taught, a convincing rationale needs to be offered, principally why this project is being undertaken when there already exists a comprehensive and official treatment of our history as a nation available online at Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand and the History Branch of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture? Could the reason be purely political?

This submission is principally focused on two major issues: Process and Content. The following issues need to be acknowledged and addressed by the curriculum writers.


The first issue the curriculum will need to address is our country’s name. Confusion exists around the name “New Zealand”, a name bestowed upon these islands by Dutch explorer Abel Janzoon Tasman in the 17th century, some 400 years after the arrival of the first Polynesian migrants, and continued ever since. Prior to and at the time of the signing of the treaty of Waitangi, the country’s name is translated in te Reo Maori as “Nu Tireni” or “Nu Tirani”. (Ref: Preamble to the Treaty of Waitangi and to Busby’s (unauthorised) Declaration of Independence of 1835).

In more recent years, it has become politically and culturally fashionable to refer to New Zealand as “Aotearoa  New Zealand”, incorporating both the traditional , but anglicised, Dutch name and the new term in te Reo Maori, “Aotearoa”.

The term “Aotearoa New Zealand” is being increasingly used by the New Zealand media and political and cultural activists but there is no legislative or regulatory authority to support this adoption. No public conversation has yet occurred on the use of this term, nor any formal change to the name of our country, New Zealand.

The term “Aotearoa” is variously, according to historian Professor Emeritus Kerry Howe: a village near Otorohanga; a term adopted by King Country iwi during the Kingite Rebellion; a term-plain Aotea- sometimes found in Maori mythology; the name of one of the canoes (waka) which brought some of our first migrants to this country; and a term developed by several non-Maori historians in the late 19th  century. The term was not used to refer to New Zealand as a whole until quite recent times-and not by Maori themselves.  

(Ref: Kerry Howe, “What’s in a name?”, Newsroom, 20 September, 2020)


Any treatment of the history of New Zealand needs to take into account the formation and existence of these islands prior to and following the arrival of the first migrants from Eastern Polynesia in 1200AD.

(Ref: The pre-history of New Zealand, Janet Davidson, Longman Paul,1984, et al).

The timeline must chronicle the arrival and subsequent settlement of  the islands comprising present day New Zealand by the Maori people;  their  treatment of our physical and natural environment, including native flora and fauna, such as the deforestation of vast areas of lowlands once in forests  and the hunting to extinction of the Moa and other species of fauna, over three centuries; followed by the periodic visits of European  traders, whalers, convicts and later, missionaries in the 17th,18th and 19th centuries, prior to the signing of the treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and some 500 independent Maori Ariki and Rangatira in 1840; and preceded by the Declaration of Independence by 34 northern rangatira  in 1835, at the behest of the then Resident Busby. ( It needs to be pointed out that Busby had neither the authority nor official sanction to do this). And of course the subsequent  arrival of significant waves of settlers from Great Britain and Europe(Germans, Poles and others), and more recently from the Pacific Islands and most  importantly, Asia, all sanctioned and encouraged  by the treaty of Waitangi of 1840.

From 1800 AD, the history of New Zealand is undoubtedly, as stated in the Introduction,  a shared history, contrary to the primary emphasis on Maori history promoted in the draft curriculum.


The writing of history (historiography) raises a significant number of challenges which the new curriculum will need to address. Over time, the development of history as an academic discipline has evolved from the knowledge and teaching of certain basic facts, into a kaleidoscope of interpretation, sanitisation, politicisation, sensationalism and historiographical revisionism.

To ensure our young people are not radicalised or conditioned into accepting and believing  a particular modern-day, politicised  interpretation of our history, it will be crucial to present the subject as follows:

a. The Primary Questions (Facts)

       – what exactly happened?

       – when did it happen?

       – where did it happen?

       – who was involved?

       – what was the context (social, political, cultural, economic) in which this/these events occurred?

        – what was/were the outcome(s) or results?

        – who says so?

b. The Secondary Questions (Opinions and presentist interpretations)

 At this point we get into the realm of opinion as opposed to fact. The historical context of the occurrence needs to be clearly stated when various perspectives of the event in question are presented.

        – why did the event(s) occur?

        – what was the contemporary context in which the event(s) occurred?

         – Who says so? Does the presenter have sufficient qualifications to support their opinion?

         – Is the presenter sufficiently impartial and objective? Recognised as such by peers?

         – What evidence (written, oral, archaeological, field research) exists  to support a particular viewpoint?

          – Is this event being interpreted using present-day standards and values-ie presentism?

(see Paragraph Six below regarding the flawed technique of using presentism)

The secondary questions must always be recognised as subjective and retrospective opinions and must be clearly stated as such. Where empirical evidence exists  such as archaeological, field research, etc, such evidence must eclipse personal opinions.

There will be different present-day interpretations of the same event, so these varying viewpoints all need to be presented, in order to give students a comprehensive and balanced overview of any historical event. Presenters must provide a range of perspectives on the same event, before suggesting that  any particular version might have more credibility because, for example, there is corroborating  evidence to support her/his assessment. In such cases, the student will at least have been exposed to several versions of the same event.

The following  example illustrates just how challenging teaching a bicultural history of New Zealand will be:

In her recent book, “This Pakeha Life: An Unsettled Memoir” , BWBooks, 2021, at pp 223-5, Professor Alison Jones (a professor in the School of Maori and Indigenous Education at the University of Auckland) describes an incident involving the visit to England by Ngapuhi chief Hongi Hika in 1820. At a Waitangi Tribunal hearing at Waitangi in 2010, Jones met an elderly kaumatua who claimed that Hongi Hika, armed only with a taiaha, defeated three of King George IV ‘s expert swordsmen, thereby gaining an audience with the king. Having studied the documented history of Hongi Hika’s visit to England, Jones had the academic audacity to challenge the authenticity of the kaumatua’s story. Jones earned herself a smart slap on the wrist and a rebuke for not only pointing at him(an insult) but also daring to challenge his mana and the veracity of his story. Much Maori history is oral but has the same legal status as written history. One can see the problem where an oral account differs from a written account. The same issue is raised in Bruce Moon’s description of the “Rangiaowhia Affray”  below. Who to believe?

How will this obvious difference be handled by  history teachers in the future? Both versions?

In summary, our history must firstly be based upon known and verifiable facts and only then, be interpreted by qualified historians, with all opinions and evidence presented, rather than omitting some and including others. Only in this way can bias and untruths be avoided.


There are many available sources of historical material relating to any particular event. They include written contemporary records; Maori oral histories; official documents; contemporary eye witness accounts at the time and place; archival and archaeological materials; and many years later, modern-day interpretations and analyses. The latter  include  academically written articles, (using we hope, a range of empirical methods), plus a host of popular works (polemics) by respected and erudite authors whose offerings are invariably  opposed by the current academic, cultural and political orthodoxy. The challenge for those writing the new curriculum will be choosing which existing materials to include-or omit.

Of significant note is the existence already of a substantial New Zealand history, available on line at Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, and the History Branch of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, as stated in the Introduction.

Why, then, is it even necessary to write a completely new curriculum for schools when such comprehensive and “official” information is already, and readily available? This question must be answered both by the Minister, the Ministry and the curriculum writers.

According to some academics and politicians, the new draft curriculum is being captured by contemporary political and cultural activists. The temptation might be to omit crucial aspects of our already known history, because to include them may “cause offence”, or worse, expose an unpalatable truth which challenges, calls into question, or completely negates, the current  political and cultural orthodoxy.

An example was Te Papa’s decision to omit any mention of the 1835 invasion of the Chatham Islands by two Taranaki  Maori iwi  and the subsequent tragic and devastating impact on the Moriori people, during the Moriori exhibition at Te Papa in 1999.

 The violent, ugly and grisly, history of inter-tribal warfare, including the invasion of the Chathams and the Musket Wars of the 1830s immediately preceding the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, which resulted in the death of some 40% of the entire Maori population, by Maori with muskets, in the 1830s, is very much a part of New Zealand’s history and must not be omitted.

The curriculum must also include in it’s coverage, a truthful account of the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s and later, including incidents such as the Matawhero massacre by Te Kooti, amongst others, and the role of  huge numbers of “kupapa” Maori who sided with the Crown during the New Zealand Wars. The activities of both Maori and the Crown during these conflicts  must be accurate and truthful.

 Already, there are indications that certain incidents, such as the Rangiaowhia  “affray”, are being re-interpreted to support modern-day activists in their claims of oppression of the tangata whenua.

(Ref: “New Zealand: The Fair Colony”, 2nd Edition, Moon, B., Bruce Moon Publications, Nelson, 2020,pp23-25)

But including references to the  substantial non-academic  literature which now exists on aspects of New Zealand’s history is strongly opposed  by many academic historians and particularly social and cultural activists, on the grounds that to acknowledge this alternative literature would give any  contra viewpoint undeserved credibility. To deny this literature exists would be dishonest. To purposely omit any reference to it would be duplicitous, unprofessional and wrong.

Then there is the problem of dealing with the re-invented history of events  promoted by the Waitangi Tribunal. According to a number of eminent historians, including at least two former members of the Tribunal itself (Professor Bill Oliver and Dr Michael Bassett) and more recently, Professor Giselle Byrnes, Tribunal histories are flawed; in many case fabricated; and unreliable as a source of historical reliability. Political and cultural activists  claim the reverse of course, citing voluminous, mainly  oral, contributions or stories upon which significant recommendations for redress to government are inevitably made.


Initial reading of the proposed curriculum suggests a deliberate attempt to acculturate the schoolchildren of New Zealand in matauranga and tikanga Maori, and to promote  beliefs and values according to Te Ao Maori. The complete draft curriculum appears to be written in this context, to the exclusion of other traditional norms and values of the majority of New Zealanders, which emanate, for example, from European and Christian foundations. It is also markedly different from the more conventional  approaches to the teaching of history practiced by most developed nations around the world. That is not to say that some other countries (Germany, Japan etc) have deliberately withheld historical knowledge from their students, for political reasons. New Zealand’s education system is regularly and vigorously assessed to ensure it also operates as a totally secular system. Parents currently have the right to withdraw their children from classes where spirituality is included. Yet as recently as March 2021, eminent academics such as Dame Anne Salmond OM, promote the teaching of our history using the Maori whakapapa model, which embodies not only significant elements of spirituality, but also elements of tikanga Maori which many might well find unacceptable, such as mate atua and makutu.

(Ref: Tangiwai: A Medical History of 19th Century New Zealand”, Gluckman, L.K., Whitcoulls, 1976)

In the opinion of some historians and legal experts, this is not only inappropriate, given the wide range of spiritual beliefs amongst New Zealand’s multi-cultural communities, including Islamic adherents, but could well be illegal under our Human Rights legislation. If the new curriculum forces children to accept and adopt aspects of Te Ao Maori spirituality and tikanga, as recently proposed by Salmond , legal action against the Ministry would undoubtedly follow. Enforced, reverse acculturation of a majority is just as unacceptable as the forced assimilation, integration and acculturation of ethnic minorities. Our history records several examples of eminent Maori leaders such as Sir Apirana Ngata in the 1930s and the attendees at the Kohimarama Conference in 1860 (Ref : VUW Library online Proceedings of the Kohimarama Conference), setting out the advantages of adopting aspects of “pakeha” culture. Many of the attendees at Kohimarama were signatories to the Treaty of Waitangi.

The issue here is whether the adoption of different cultural norms is or has been, voluntary or compulsory.   

It is also unacceptable for government agencies including the Ministry of Education to promote, for example, just one treatment of the Treaty of Waitangi (such as the government’s preference for Dr Claudia Orange’s version, The Treaty of Waitangi) to the exclusion of other, equally reliable and valid treatments. No mention is ever made of a critical review of Orange’s book on the Treaty by Prof Gordon Parsonson  in the Otago Daily Times of 8 July 1988, p 21. which highlights a number of  omissions and weaknesses in Orange’s thesis. Orange has based much of her book on her own highly-personalised opinions, yet this work is promoted by government as the “authoritative” treatment of the Treaty.

The same point can be made concerning modern translations of the Treaty of Waitangi. Orange, et al, provide a series of translations of the treaty (which is in te Reo Maori as provided by the early missionaries who were fluent in te Reo), which are consistent. But the government prefers a much more modern , 1989 translation by Professor Sir Hugh Kawharu, a Massey University academic, which is significantly different from all previous translations and which clearly reflects a modern socio-political agenda. Kawharu’s 1989 translation is very  different from the widely-accepted translations of generations of historians and linguists. The issue here is whose version of the treaty in English will be incorporated into the new curriculum? All? Several? Just one?

 It is not uncommon, too, for modern academic historians to denigrate and dismiss the works of earlier, highly- respected historians, such as Professor Keith Sinclair, as irrelevant to modern-day New Zealand. For example, Orange, in her preface, dismisses the work of T. Lindsay Buick, whose book The Treaty of Waitangi was the standard university text on the treaty for decades, as “essentially a compilation of official documents, it had little analysis and a good deal of error”.  Orange completely fails to support her opinion with any evidence at all. As pointed out above, there is already a very comprehensive literature on the Treaty which does not require fundamental revision or re-writing at all, which again begs the question-why is it necessary to completely re-write New Zealand’s history?

(Ref: Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, et al)

One reason could be that, in the opinion of the drafters, too little attention has been paid in the past to regional, local or tribal histories, either documented or oral. The issue here is- should our students be exposed to more regional, local and tribal histories, at the expense of their knowledge of our national history? This question needs to be answered.


Related to paragraph 5 above is the increasing use of “presentism” in the teaching of our history. “Presentism” is defined as interpreting past events using today’s standards and values. But this is an academically  flawed  and disingenuous technique, according to the late Professor Bill Oliver in a seminal  essay on the subject.

 (Ref: “Histories, Power and Loss”, A.Sharp and P.McHugh, Eds, Bridget Williams Books, 2001)

As indicated above, Oliver, a 10-year member of the Waitangi Tribunal, illustrates the historiographical problems of reinterpreting history using presentism. His essay  is echoed by Giselle Byrnes in her excellent treatment of Waitangi Tribunal  histories, and in recent on-line posts by Dr Michael Bassett, a former MP, Tribunal member, university historian and author of several authoritative books on NZ history. (Ref:The Waitangi Tribunal and New Zealand History, Byrnes, G., OUP 2004)


Much emphasis is to be accorded the history and numerous interpretations of the Treaty in the curriculum on the grounds that the treaty is variously:  New Zealand’s “Founding Document”; a “partnership” between the Crown and Maori; that it is a  “living” document; a covenant;  it “speaks”; it is the “spirit” of the Treaty which matters, not it’s words; the “principles” of the Treaty (undefined) must be given effect: and so on.

The treaty itself is a simple, straightforward document in which , in return for cession of sovereignty to the British Crown, our Maori people are guaranteed “protection”, ownership of their lands and other property (at the time of signing) and equal rights as British subjects, no more and no less.

However, as the drafters of the new curriculum well know, numerous commentators, former politicians, academics and cultural activists all claim that the treaty does NOT mean what it actually says, but what these people, today, say it means, almost 200 years later-a clear example of presentism.

 We are told that it is the “spirit” (undefined) of the treaty which is important, and we must “give effect” to the various “principles” they claim it embodies.  A simple search for these principles reveals that at least 13 lists of “principles” now exist, ranging from two to twenty-six principles, where no two lists are the same. There is no regulatory or legislative authority which defines these principles. Reference to these undefined principles in the New Zealand Constitution is merely a convention, ie they have no legal status and therefore are not legally enforceable. No mention is ever made of the instructions to Hobson by Lord Normanby regarding his treating with the “New Zealanders”. He instructed Hobson that the treaty negotiations should reflect three principles-justice, fairness and good faith.  Just three. No mention of any “partnership” etc.

There is also the issue of exactly what the promoters and signatories to the Treaty at the time of signing, understood it to be, particularly differences between the draft in English and the translation into Te Reo Maori (the Treaty is the Maori version). Various scholars have given their presentist interpretations of these differences, thereby causing further confusion.

However there is at least one piece of excellent, unbiased research which unravels all of these differences, but which is never referred to or even acknowledged by political and cultural activists and academic historians:

(Ref: “Preserved In The Archives Of The Colony: The English Drafts Of The Treaty Of Waitangi”, Parkinson, P., 2005, NZACL Monograph, Wellington).

This monograph contains an excellent bibliography on the subject of the different meanings of the Treaty. Dr Phillip Parkinson was for many years an historical researcher at the Alexander Turnbull Library and at the Library of New Zealand. See also the seminal journal article attributed to Dr Ruth Ross in the Bibliography, which also deals with different understandings about exactly what was agreed to.

Both must be considered as essential references by the curriculum writers.

Many myths surround the Treaty today which are unsubstantiated, particularly that the treaty is a “partnership”. Not only is this manifestly incorrect but the treaty is NOT, in fact, even a legal document, according to the New Zealand Constitution.

(Ref: Article Breaking Views, “Partnerships” by Judge Antony Willy,  NZCPR.com of 6 December, 2020)

As mentioned, there now exists a substantial literature on the Treaty which can be categorised as follows: academic versus polemic or popular; pro-treaty versus contra-treaty; historical versus current; oral versus written; and factual  versus opinion. The challenge for the curriculum designers is obviously to present a curriculum which incorporates all of these Treaty-related  viewpoints, rather than a politically- and culturally-selective, distorted and/or subjective  version.

A small selection of alternative Treaty literature is attached as a condensed bibliography, which the curriculum writers must acknowledge. 


The curriculum MUST also avoid giving credence to a wide range of historical myths which can be shown to be complete fabrications. To illustrate this point, New Zealanders have long been led to believe that the dissidents from Parihaka in Taranaki in the 1880s were banished to Dunedin where they were kept chained and housed in caves for months on end, along the MacAndrews Bay causeway, on which the prisoners worked.

In a recent exposure, this particular claim has been shown to be completely untrue and fabricated.

It now transpires that the Parihaka dissidents were housed in the Dunedin Jail and according to the daughter of the Jailer of the time, were locked out of the jail if not back from work by 7pm! A number of dissidents, on their return to Taranaki, expressed gratitude for the humane way in which they were treated whilst in Dunedin.

(Ref: “The Parihaka Prisoners and the Legend of The Caves” , MacManus, J., The Spinoff, 4 November 2018. This article is the result of recent detailed research on the legend by Sean Brosnahan , Curator of the Otago Early Settlers Museum Toitu, an historian and Otago University lecturer.) 

Separating myths from facts will require a significant degree of what might be termed Quality Control – or, some system of scrutinising the curriculum to ensure objectivity and impartiality and to avoid untruths, myths and incorrect information. Periodic quality and objectivity monitoring may be necessary in a social, political and cultural environment where there are attempts to “condition” people through the process of “argumentum ad nauseam” or repeating an untruth often enough that it becomes to be considered a fact. The Treaty “partnership” myth is a good example of “argumentum ad nauseam”, based as it is on an “obiter dictum” , or an aside comment, of a judge in the Lands case of 1987.

 (Note: “obiter dicta” have NO legal status and are not part of the judgement in the case).


The above issues and processes are a very small list of  topics which the curriculum writers will need to address. Others of equal importance include:

  • LAND.  The historical acquisition of land in New Zealand, prior to and following the signing of the Treaty must be honestly dealt with. This includes presentist claims that land was “stolen” from Maori, despite the fact that most land in New Zealand, (apart from confiscations- see below) as recorded in the courts, was legitimately purchased from its Maori owners; the illegal negation of some 700 legitimate pre-Treaty land purchases registered in the courts of New South Wales; confiscation and the return of confiscated lands after the New Zealand Wars – see note below; modern-day land sales and ownership; pre-treaty occupation, conquest and subjugation of some iwi by other iwi; the Maori Land Court proceedings; recent and on-going claims to the Foreshore and Seabed by Maori; publicly-owned land gifted under Treaty settlements; modern day enforced sales of private land by the government, such as Ihumatao (the purchase of which has now, [20April 2020], been found by the Auditor-General, to be unlawful), Maunganui Bluff, etc.(Note: The confiscation of land occupied by tribes in rebellion against the Crown  during the New Zealand Wars must be accurately and truthfully treated. The confiscation of land was not confined, nor singularly applied  to, New Zealand. Confiscation of property, including land, was a penalty applied across the then British Empire as a punishment for crimes against the Crown, as occurred in New Zealand. Confiscation of property including land, is still a penalty for certain crimes in New Zealand today.No confiscations took place in the South Island.The North Island comprises 28.103 million acres.

    Some 3.215 million acres of land in the North Island were initially confiscated, of which 50% (1.598 million acres) were subsequently returned to iwi.

    Confiscations in the Waikato were more severe, due to the Kingite rebellion (1.202 million acres confiscated, of which 314,364 million acres (26%) was returned). With the exception of the Waikato data, almost two thirds (64%) of all confiscated land in the North Island was subsequently returned.(Ref: Parihaka: The Facts”, McLean, J., Tross Publishing, 2020, at Appendix 1)

  • TREATY SETTLEMENTS. A thorough treatment of ”Full and Final” Treaty settlements since the early20th century by the Crown; their legal and political bases; the substantial monetary amounts involved (now billions of dollars) ; historical versus present-day claims; etc
  • RACISM. A thorough treatment of this issue in New Zealand and it’s present-day politicisation is necessary, because of it’s importance regarding freedom of speech and expression under our Human Rights legislation and Maori demands for separatism in health, (approved on 21 April, 2020), education, social welfare and the Justice system. Racism has  existed in New Zealand for most of our history and needs to be exposed. Examples of racism in New Zealand include the segregation of Maori in the town of Pukekohe in the early 20th century; the historical denigration of Chinese gold miners in Otago; the  banishment of Polish settlers to Jacksons Bay in the late 19th century; denigration of Irish people on the West Coast during that area’s gold rush, where hotels excluded Irish and dogs from entry; more recently, the disgraceful behaviour of Labour Party and New Zealand First politicians regarding the identification of property investors of Asian origin; the harassment of Indian migrants, particularly dairy-owners, by ethnic gangs in South Auckland and elsewhere; and the denial by government  of our valued ethnic minorities from the Pacific, China, India, the Philippines,  Middle East and Africa, under their policy of biculturalism. Maori are not the only ethnic minority to experience racism either. The insult is also extended to “Old White Men”, particularly by Green Party politicians. The curriculum must also include the now wide-spread practice which some commentators label “inverse racism” in New Zealand. Policies embracing affirmative action or positive discrimination are now common throughout New Zealand, in health, education, welfare, business, and the justice system. But overseas experience, particularly in the US, shows that race-based preferential treatment for minorities inevitably results in further injustices by denying otherwise worthy aspirants the same opportunities. In other countries, quota systems apply based on ethnicity, with similar negative outcomes. Such policies must receive due attention and justification in the new curriculum.
  • THE NEW ZEALAND CONSTITUTION. There is a need to more fully educate our population on the (unwritten) constitution of New Zealand. The bicultural Constitutional Review of 2013 needs to be more fully explained; the Maori-only Constitutional report of 2016 (Matike Mai Aotearoa) needs to be exposed and opened for comment in which Maori plan to co-govern New Zealand by 2040 (200 years from the signing of the Treaty);  Sir Geoffrey Palmer’s campaign (current) to reform our Constitution into a written, USA lookalike; and Maori plans for parliamentary reform-two parliaments, Maori and “others”, overseen by a Treaty House. (Ref: Building the Constitution Summit, Parliament, 2000).The radical constitutional reforms recommended to Parliament in the report He Puapua:Vision2040, November 2019 whereby New Zealand would be co-governed by Maori (16%) and the rest of New Zealand (84%), must be included and justified, in any proposal to provide a way forward based on our shared history to date.
  • COLONISATION. Together with various myths referred to above, it is fashionable today to blame the colonisation of New Zealand by the British and others, for all the modern-day problems facing our Maori people. This is yet another example of an “argumentum ad nauseam” gaining traction through being regularly repeated, especially via the media, without any challenge or comment. This claim is an opinion only and New Zealanders should welcome a history which deals fairly with the settlement of New Zealand by both Maori  and new migrants, following the agreements reached through the Treaty process and the benefits to all citizens which ensued. The negativity of  “colonisation” of New Zealand so favoured by today’s political and cultural revisionists, was NOT an enforced  colonisation at all, but an expected and welcomed  outcome by the signatories to the Treaty of Waitangi.To blame various factions of today’s New Zealand society (particularly those of European descent) for the negative  outcomes of our Maori people on “colonisation” alone is a gross distortion of history and a blatant untruth. The curriculum writers need to acknowledge that colonisation is a common feature of almost every country and ethnicity on earth. Even the English were colonised by the Romans , then the Normans. Irish, Scots, Poles, all of whom make up new Zealand’s rich cultural diversity, were colonised by somebody, at some point.
  • OUR COLONIAL HISTORY. It is quite common for institutions such as regional museums, even Te Papa, to downplay or ignore completely, the contributions which successive waves of migrants made to the infrastructure and development of modern-day New Zealand. It will be most important, and expected, that due attention and recognition is accorded  the substantial contributions to New Zealand’s development  which successive waves of migrants made in the 19th and 20th centuries. The current tendency to downplay or negate these contributions is not only disingenuous, but also  mean-spirited and disgraceful. For example, the Otago Regional Museum has almost no exhibits which feature the rich historical contributions which Scottish settlers made to Otago. When challenged on this issue, the writer was once told – “go down the road to the Otago Early Settlers Museum, not here. We only deal in Maori history”.   
  • BICULTURALISM VERSUS MULTICULTURALISM. How has New Zealand evolved into a bicultural nation, when there are over 122 different cultures living  here (multiculturalism)? This blatant, disingenuous, dichotomy  will need to be fully explained to our young people.


This submission is based on the expectation that the curriculum designers will develop an honest, impartial, objective and comprehensive account of the past and present development of our country, New Zealand. Whilst the temptation of the writers will be to produce an outcome which is politically, socially and culturally acceptable  to their political, bureaucratic and cultural superiors, these factors must defer to the more important aspects of scope, honesty (however unpleasant) and impartiality. Only by giving the latter factors primacy in the curriculum will our young people learn how we have developed into the nation we claim to be. We can only hope that our confidence in the curriculum writers to produce an honest, impartial and truthful version of our shared history  is not misplaced.

Whilst this will be an enormous challenge to the writing team, it is also a very rare and exciting opportunity to  inform our young people  and indeed, the rest of us, about who we are today. 




Note: This short bibliography, spanning some 50 years, demonstrates that a comprehensive literature now  exists which challenges the current political/cultural/academic “orthodoxy” of the history of New Zealand and it’s evolution. This orthodoxy is mainly based on presentist interpretations of  the Treaty of Waitangi , continuously relayed in the New Zealand media, which, in turn, consistently fails to present alternative views. Much of this orthodoxy comprises personal opinions, myths and revised histories. This bibliography allows students to see that alternative views exist which challenge the “orthodoxy”.

“The Treaty of Waitangi”, Buick, T L., Thomas Avery, 1936 (Capper Press reprint,1976)

“Asians and the New Multiculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand” Ghoshi, G., and Leckie, J, OUP 2015

“The Travesty of Waitangi”, Scott, Stuart, Campbell Press, 1985

“The Penguin History of New Zealand”, King, Dr M.,Penguin, 2003 (revised edition 2012)

“The Gathering Storm” Barr, H., Tross Publishing 2010 (refers to the claims by Maori to NZ’s Foreshore & Seabed)

“Bullshit, Backlash and Bleeding Hearts”, Slack, D., Penguin, 2009

”Towards 1990” Anderson, A., et al., GPBooks,1989 (prominent historians contribute to NZ’s evolution)

“The Kingite Rebellion”, Robinson, J., Tross Publishing,2016

“From Cannons Creek to Waitangi”, Oakely, A., Tross Publishing,2014

“Truth or Treaty?” Round, D., Canterbury University Press,1988 (An erudite challenge to “treatyism”)

“Coasts of Treachery”, Grayland,E., Reed, 1963

“The Burning of The Boyd: A Saga of Culture Clash” Doak, W., Hodder and Stoughton, 1984,

“The Treaty  of Waitangi”,Renwick, T.L., 3rd edition, Capper Press, 1986

“The Oxford History of New Zealand”,Rice, G., 2nd edition,Oxford University Press, 1982

“Dividing a Nation: The Return  to Tikanga” Robinson,, J., Tross Publishing,2019

“Spiral of Values”, Webster, P., Alpha Publishing, 2001. (a longitudinal study of NZers values in 2001)

“One Treaty, One Nation”, Barr ,H., et al, Tross Publishing,2015.

“Tribes, Treaty, Money, Power”, Butler, M., Tross Publishing, 2014

“I’ve Been Writing”, Prebble, Hon R., Fraser Holland Publishers, 1999

“Unquiet Time”, James, C., Fraser Books, 2017

“Once We Were One”, Oakley, A., Tross Publishing, 2017

“Public Policy and Ethnicity”, Rata, E, and  Openshaw ,R., eds, Palgrave McMillan, 2006 (very good)

“New Zealand Education and Treatyism”, Christie, W.,Wyvern,1996 (topical today)

“Twisting The Treaty”, Robinson, J., et al, Tross Publishing, 2013

“Moriori: A People Rediscovered”, King, Dr M., Viking, 1989 (the classic treatment of the Moriori)

“Ngai Tahu: A Migratory History”, Tau, Te M., and Anderson, A., Bridget William Books,2008

“Facsimilies of the Treaty of Waitangi and The Declaration of Independence”, Govt Printer, 1960

“Historical Records of New Zealand, Vols I and II”, McNab,R., ed, Government Printer, 1908

“The New Zealand Wars and The Pioneering Period – Vols  I and II”, Cowan, J., Government Printer, 1983 (authoritative and academically respected as a true description of the NZ Wars)

“The Musket Wars: A History of Inter-Iwi Conflict 1806-1845”, Crosby, R. D., Reed, 1989

“The Forgotten Wars: Why the Musket Wars Matter Today”, Crosby, R., Oratia Books, 2020

“A History of New Zealand”, Sinclair, K., Penguin, 1959. (regarded as THE classic NZ history)

“Unrestrained Slaughter: The Maori Musket Wars 1800-1840” Robinson, J.,Tross Publishing 2020

“Hone Heke’s War” Robinson, J., Tross Publishing 2021

“Travesty After Travesty, Scott, S., Certes Publishing,1996

“Parihaka: The Facts” McLean, J., Tross Publishing, 2020

“The Treaty and The Act” Mitchell, R., Cadsonbury Publishing,1990

“Treaty Issues” Christie, R., Wyvern Press,1997

“The Treaty Now” Renwick, W., GP Books,1990 (Govt Printer)

“New Zealand Politics at the Turn of the Millenium: The NZ Study of Values” Perry, P., and Webster, A., Alpha Publishing, 1999 (a longitudinal study of New Zealander’s value and attitudes)

“A Race Apart” Christie, W., Wyvern Press, 1998

“The Corruption of New Zealand Democracy: A Treaty Overview” Robinson, J., Tross Publishing, 2011

“When Two Cultures Meet: The New Zealand Experience” Robinson, J., Tross Publishing, 2012

“Wars Without End” Keenan, D., Penguin, 2021 (a presentist treatment of historic Maori land issues)

“Trick or Treaty” Graham, Hon Douglas, Inst of Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, 1997

“Tangiwai: A Medical History of 19th Century New Zealand”  Gluckman, L., Whitcoulls, 1997 (an important history of Maori medical outcomes)

“Te Tiriti O Waitangi: Texts and Translations” Ross, Ruth, NZ Journal of History, 1972, 06, 02, pp129,133 (considered to be the first, modern, definitive article on the differences between the English and Maori versions of the Treaty of Waitangi)

“Waitangi: Morality and Reality” Minogue,K., NZ Business Roundtable, Wellington, 1998

“Maori: The Crisis and the Challenge”, Duff,A., Harper Collins,1993

“Special Measures to Reduce Ethnic Disadvantage in New Zealand”, Callister, P., Inst of Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington,2007

“The Maori Seats in Parliament” Joseph, P., Business Roundtable, Wellington, 2008 (excellent essay)

“New Zealand: The Fair Colony”, Moon, B.,2nd Edition, Bruce Moon Publications, 2020.