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Cultural interactions in 1800s NZ

Painting of a Māori haka.  In the foreground, groups of Māori and Pakeha, including a man performing a challenge with an axe.

'Maori War Dance', Taranaki, 1864 by Joseph Osbertus Hamley. Ref: E-047-q-021 Alexander Turnbull Library.

Students inquire into challenges and opportunities created by cultural interactions between tangata whenua and European settlers in 1800s' Aotearoa New Zealand.


  • Culture, diversity, difference, interpretation, perception, understanding, actions, response, impacts.
  • He Tohu themes: people, living together.

What to do

Discuss the challenges and opportunities

Discuss the challenges and opportunities created by cultural interactions in Aotearoa New Zealand in the 1800s.

Examples include challenges and opportunities arising from:

  • different understandings of, or relationships with, the land
  • different systems of law and order and/or leadership
  • different belief systems, ways of thinking, and acting
  • competing needs and demands of people in different communities
  • rapid mass immigration of Europeans.

Analyse a challenge or opportunity

Students choose one challenge or opportunity presented by cultural interaction in Aotearoa in the 1800s and answer the following questions:

  1. What factors contributed to this challenge or opportunity?
  2. What was the Māori perspective?
  3. What was the European perspective?

Investigate a key stakeholder

Explain that a 'stakeholder' is a person, group, or organisation that is interested in and/or affected by an event, action, or issue.

Students then choose one stakeholder (person, group, or community) from this time and answer the following questions:

  1. What actions did your stakeholder take in response to this challenge or opportunity?
  2. Why did your stakeholder respond in this way? What did they want to achieve? What was important to them?
  3. What were some impacts of these responses?


Choose another stakeholder and answer questions 1 to 3 from their perspective.

Some useful resources

Topic Explorer:

New Zealand Curriculum — social sciences

Conceptual strands:

  • Identity, Culture, and Organisation
  • Place and Environment
  • Continuity and Change
  • Economic World

Achievement objectives:

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