Aotearoa New Zealand is a multicultural society with bicultural foundations. People have different ideas about the role of the Treaty within New Zealand.

Tino rangatiratanga?

The Treaty of Waitangi was an agreement between Māori rangatira and British Crown representatives. It was intended to be the basis of a new relationship. The agreement outlined a sharing of power, with different roles and spheres of influence.

  • Rangatira were to retain their authority over their hapū and territories.
  • Hobson was given authority to govern Pākehā.

Māori tino rangatiratanga (absolute power and authority) was guaranteed. However, it didn’t take long for the British to impose a different balance of power. This shift promoted British ways of thinking and being that has shaped the way cultures interact in Aotearoa.

Key question: How does having a dominant culture in Aotearoa impact on the way different cultures interact?

The social inquiry focus of this resource is considering responses and decisions.

Achievement objectives

Understand how early Polynesian and British migrations to New Zealand have continuing significance for tangata whenua and communities (social sciences level 3).

Understand how people pass on and sustain culture and heritage for different reasons and that this has consequences for people (social sciences level 4).

Understand how cultural interaction impacts on cultures and societies (social sciences level 5).

Understand how the Treaty is responded to differently by people in different times and places (social sciences level 5).

Key conceptual understandings

Stories about places sustain culture and heritage.

Cultural interaction involves power relationships that impact on communities and societies.

People have responded differently to the Treaty of Waitangi, which was intended to formalise a relationship between Māori and the Crown.

Key concepts: Cultural interaction, sustaining heritage, impact, responses, tangata whenua.


This resource explores cultural interaction in Aotearoa New Zealand. It focuses on place names and collective stories. Students explore how New Zealand's dominant culture impacts on the ways cultural identities are sustained and passed on.

Two Maori themed books and three kete sitting on a bed of ferns

Understanding the context — place names and collective stories Read how place names and collective stories can be used to explore cultural interaction.
He Tohu advertisement at the bottom of Molesworth St Wellington

Explore cultural interaction with your class Explore cultural interaction with suggested activities that take you through 5 phases of the social inquiry process.
Classroom student with headphones completing research on a laptop

Supporting activities and resources This section provides a suite of supporting activities and resources to enrich your students' exploration of cultural interaction. You'll also find extra support for the considering responses component of the social inquiry.