In this social inquiry, students explore how 2 different cultures interact in Aotearoa New Zealand. The resource helps students understand how the dominant culture in Aotearoa impacts on Māori culture and society in general. The focus is on place names, collective stories, and the ways these sustain culture and heritage.
Establishing the focus for learning
In this activity, students explore themes related to place names, identity, and cultural interaction.
Activity — visual text
As a class, first read 'The Rabbits' by John Marsden and Shaun Tan (2000). Take them through this visual text exercise:
Visual text exercise — 'The Rabbits'
Activity — place and name
Give students this quick quiz:
- Who discovered New Zealand?
- Write down the names of 3 well-known stories that you learned as a child.
- Name 4 major towns in New Zealand.
- Write down the Māori names for the 4 towns you wrote down in question 3.
- Name 5 hapū or iwi in Aotearoa.
- Identify regions where the hapū or iwi have mana whenua.
- What is the name of the Māori King?
- What is the name of the Queen of England?
- What is the Māori name for your town/region and what does it mean?
- What is a Māori name for the North Island and the South Island?
Discussion after the quizz
- How many of the 'well-known stories' that students named are specific to Aotearoa? How many are European in origin? Which other countries or cultures appear in the stories students wrote down? To what extent is cultural diversity evident, or not evident, in the story selections?
- How many students said either Abel Tasman or James Cook discovered New Zealand rather than East Polynesian explorers or, as in some traditions, Kupe? Why?
- Why are many New Zealanders more familiar with European stories and English place names than with Māori stories and place names?
Activity — Aotearoa place names
Discuss that long before Europeans arrived in Aotearoa, New Zealand had been explored and named by Māori.
Every name has a story and relationship. Māori names for a region or land features provide a valuable window into the history of places, including the lives of people who named them, and their descendants.
If students are not sure about the Māori name for their town, region, and island (for example, Te Ika a Māui or Te Waipounamu), have them investigate these. They could also create and recite their own mihimihi.
Activity — the importance of names
Discuss in pairs:
- What does your name mean? Is there a story behind it?
- Are you known by any other names?
- Would it matter if a teacher called you by a completely different name all year? What impact might that have on who you are or your relationship with that teacher? Would it be different if you were younger, for example at preschool?
The following videos will support discussions about the importance of names.
The importance of correctly pronouncing Māori words (Radio New Zealand video, 7:35)
The importance of names — ROOTS at the White House (Vimeo, 1:05)
Activity — poetry
As a class, read 'The shame of Tāneroa' by Marewa Glover. This poem comes with a 3-level guide to support students to understand and analyse it.
Read 'The shame of Tāneroa' and download teacher notes
Finding out information
In this section, students explore stories that relate to their town or region. The students are introduced to the idea that stories shared about places in Aotearoa often support the dominant culture.
Activity — place names
Discuss where the name of your town or city comes from and why. Are there other names (if any) that your town, city or region has been known by?
Activity — Māori history
Investigate the Māori history of your town or region. Where possible, draw on the knowledge and expertise of people within your community. An important component of this is not only local history knowledge but the way the land relates to tangata whenua.
If the information is difficult to uncover, discuss why.
Partnership is realised as schools collaborate with Māori and non-Māori to develop, implement, and review policies, practices, and procedures. By working collaboratively, schools learn to share power, control, and decision-making while validating the unique position of Māori as tangata whenua and recognising the contribution Māori make to education.
— Treaty principles, TKI
For information on engaging with local iwi and hapū, contact your local regional Ministry of Education offices.
Activity — local stories
Discuss that our sense of place comes from stories about a physical location. In every place, some stories have more prominence than others.
Discuss that the existence of dominant or well-known stories can be at the expense of other stories and that sometimes this is not accidental.
Activity — heritage
Conduct a survey of official references to heritage items around your town. These could include memorials, heritage panels, significant street names, statues, and murals. You may also like to explore how your town's heritage appears online.
Categorise the information you gather into the following:
- the natural and man-made environment, including changes over time
- the Māori history of the town or region
- the Pākehā history of the town or region
- stories about Māori individuals and communities
- stories about Pākehā individuals and communities
- stories about individuals and communities that are neither Māori nor Pākehā
- memorials related to events, disasters, and conflicts such as the First World War.
Activity — dominant culture
Discuss the concept of dominant culture.
A 'dominant culture' is one that holds the most power, or is the most widespread or influential within a society of multiple cultures. The dominant culture appears in the established language, religion, values, rituals, and social customs of a group. These traits are often viewed as 'the norm' for that society.
Discuss the extent to which the collective stories of your town or region reflect a dominant culture.
Activity — Māori and European names
Have students conduct a survey amongst members of their communities to find out:
- if people know the origins of the name of your town and/or region
- how much people know about the Māori history of the area, including which hapū or iwi are mana whenua.
If your town has a European name, get students to investigate people’s responses to the idea of reinstating the Māori name for the town.
Activity — Aotearoa or New Zealand?
Have students record their thoughts about which of the 2 following names they prefer:
- Aotearoa, or
- New Zealand.
What is their main preference and why?
Activity — poetry
As a class, read 'Our tūpuna remain' by Jacq Carter. The poem gives voice to the pain and resilience of Māori who have experienced dramatic changes since the arrival of Europeans.
Read 'Our tūpuna remain' and download teacher notes
Exploring values and perspectives
In this activity, students explore people’s responses to a proposed name change for Matiu/Somes Island. Students are asked to consider the values and perspectives in people's responses.
The Matiu/Somes Island activity introduces students to 2 key perspectives:
- Eurocentricism — People with a Eurocentric worldview focus on European culture or history and exclude a wider world view. Eurocentric people often believe that European culture is superior or more important than other cultures.
- Multiculturalism — People with a multicultural perspective believe all cultures deserve equal respect. This means avoiding judging or stereotyping people from other groups.They accept that people from other cultures have different values and norms.
You may like to explore these 2 perspectives with the students before introducing the Matiu/Somes activity. The discussion students have throughout this activity may also provide opportunities to explore if particular ideas are Eurocentric or multicultural in nature.
Teacher support for understanding views, values, and perspectives
Considering responses and decisions
Students will consider responses and decisions made in relation to the renaming of Matiu/Somes Island in Wellington. Although this decision was made in the 1990s, many of the values and perspectives that underpinned people’s views are still evident today.
A key focus is learning about the process that the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa uses to make decisions about place names.
This section is divided into 3 activity parts.
- Students explore the history of the island and the process involved in changing its name.
- Students consider decisions made by the Harbour Islands Kaitiaki Board related to managing the island today.
- Students learn about the impact of Whanganui River becoming a legal entity, including the global impact of this decision.
Teacher support for considering responses and decisions
Activity — Matiu/Somes Island
In 1996, the New Zealand Geographic Board proposed that Somes Island, an island in the middle of Wellington Harbour, be 'renamed' Matiu Island.
In this activity, students assume roles as members of the New Zealand Geographic Board. The 'board' is considering a proposed name change for Somes Island in Wellington Harbour. The group's task is to decide which information in the submissions should help their decision in naming the island. Using the information available groups will make and provide reasons for their decision and report their ideas to the class,
Use these 2 Prezis to give a brief overview of the history of Matiu Island and of the New Zealand Company that renamed it Somes Island.
View the presentation about the history of Matiu Island
View the presentation about the New Zealand Company
Activity notes and submissions
This activity uses real letters sent to the New Zealand Geographic Board, so they represent a range of views, values, and perspectives. The New Zealand Geographic Board described many of these letters as "Eurocentric in nature". The Board also noted that many correspondents were unfamiliar with New Zealand history. It’s important that students approach these submissions with this understanding.
Download this activity's student notes (pdf, 304KB)
Download this activity's teacher notes (pdf, 387KB)
Download the submissions made to the New Zealand Geographic Board in 1996 (pdf, 890KB)
Activity — island kaitiaki
In September 2009, Matiu/Somes Island returned to Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika as part of their Treaty settlement. This was the beginning of a new era for the island. Mana whenua established a new board called the Harbour Islands Kaitiaki Board who work with the Department of Conservation and the public to strengthen the island's mouri (life force). Mouri is from the Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika dialect and the preferred spelling of mauri used by the Kaitiaki Board.
In this activity, students learn about the guiding cultural and ecological principles used by the kaitiaki (guardians) of Matiu/Somes Island. They then examine how these are put into place.
Download the notes for this activity (pdf, 122KB)
See the full Harbour Islands Kaitiaki plan at DOC
This Treaty settlement story shows that when iwi and the Crown work in partnership, applying the principles of tikanga Māori, the benefits can be enjoyed by all New Zealanders.
A summary of some of the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal related to the Wellington Harbour is included in the student notes.
Download the Waitangi Tribunal report on Te Whanganui a Tara/Wellington Harbour (pdf, 12.3MB)
Activity — the Whanganui River
Students investigate why and how the Whanganui River became a legal entity with the same rights as a human being.
Change-maker — the Whanganui River
In this section, students explore their vision for Aotearoa and ways that they can act as kaitiaki for their communities and even Aotearoa.
The students enter this process through a poem by Witi Ihimaera called 'Our watch now'.
The key question for this resource is:
What would Aotearoa be like if all New Zealanders embraced the concept of being a multicultural country underpinned by bicultural foundations?
Witi Ihimaera’s poem is an extension of this question, inviting readers to consider not only what Aotearoa might have been but what it could become.
Read 'Our watch now' and download teacher notes
Read through the teacher notes and student instructions accompanying Witi Ihimaera’s poem:
- give each student a copy of the poem and work through the related activities with the class
- in the final activity of the 'Our watch now' resource, students should consider their own vision for Aotearoa.
Extend this activity by having students work in groups to plan how they can contribute to their vision and act as kaitiaki.
For example, students could:
- explore ways that the values of kaitiakitanga, manaakitanga, rangitiratanga, and whanaungatanga reflect their school community, and how these values can be strengthened
- find ways to give greater prominence to the Māori heritage of their communities and contribute to a shared online space
- investigate ways to incorporate the voices of other cultural groups, for example, the stories of Indian and Chinese New Zealanders.
Examples of a shared online space
Definitions of key cultural interaction terms explains the meanings of kaitiakitanga, manaakitanga, rangitiratanga, and whanaungatanga.
Ideally, the responses students come up with will come from their own vision for Aotearoa.