Edward Gibbon, author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, wrote: "History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortune of mankind."
Sadly, the draft Aotearoa New Zealand's Histories in the New Zealand Curriculum seems to be a folly and misfortune in itself.
The names and qualifications of those drafting the curriculum are not readily available on the Ministry of Education website but it appears the majority have been captured by the current, fashionable tropes of critical race theory, cultural Marxism and the denigration of colonisation.
The draft curriculum one is invited to submit on is woefully short on facts or content but instead is framed by the so-called "three big ideas". All three are contentious but, more worryingly, if forming the basis of New Zealand children's education for their first 10 years, likely to foment social disharmony; guilt and resentment in equal parts, depending on one's ethnicity.
New Zealand and New Zealanders, Māori and Pākehā, deserve better.
Simon Winchester, author of Land: How the hunger for ownership shaped the modern world, observed that the manner in which New Zealand has attempted to address the injustices visited on its native peoples is a model of decency by comparison with the United States.
In short - though imperfect New Zealand has much to be proud of.
However, instead of looking at the warp and weft of the multiple influences that have shaped New Zealand as a whole, we are asked to look at our nation's history through the lens of how the first "colonisers", Māori, were affected in our evolution towards a First World nation.
This is a very valid study in itself but Māori history is but one broad strand in our country's cable of experience. A nation's history transcends ethnicity and requires painting with a broader palette.
The three ideas are: Maori history is the foundational and continuous history of Aotearoa New Zealand; colonisation and its consequences have been central to our history for the past 200 years, and continue to influence all aspects of New Zealand society, and the course of Aotearoa New Zealand's history has been shaped by the exercise and effects of
There is an element of truth in all three ideas but a nation's past is too important to be
As Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia in 1996, observed: "The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. it stays to shape what we are and what we do."
A Maori proverb, "kia whakatomuri te haere whakamua", outlines a similar sentiment. We walk backwards into the future with our eyes fixed on the past.
This is the challenge. What past are we fixing our eyes on?
Given the second wave of colonists to New Zealand were European, surely major foundation stones of our history are also the European Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the desire to spread Christianity.
It is egregious that the draft curriculum ignores them.
A nation's historical narrative cannot be an Emmental cheese, with holes where the facts fail to fit contemporary prejudices.
One bright spot is the recognition that Māori migration to colonise this land was likely to have been deliberate and skilful.
Andrew Crowe's book Pathway of the Birds is a stunning and compelling distillation of evidence for this to be the case. His conclusions echo that of highly respected Māori anthropologist Sir Peter Buck (Te Rangi Hīroa ) who wrote of his forebears, "we have a glorious heritage, for we come of the blood that conquered the Pacific with stone-age vessels that sailed ever toward the sunrise".
The curriculum is also strangely vague on the nature of Māori society. It is well documented that Māori were a hierarchical, primarily hunter/gatherer, tribal society and gifted artists in wood and stone.
Skilled in warfare and in creating defensive fortifications; many communities lived in or around strategically sited refuges or pa. Larger tribes preyed on weaker tribes.
There is no indication that this or the carnage of the Musket Wars, where thousands of Māori died at the hands of other Māori will be studied. Nor that such inter-tribal depredations led many smaller tribes to welcome the rule of law accompanying the arrival of Europeans.
Certainly the meeting of a hunter/gatherer society and a post-Industrial Revolution society, 200 years ago, posed its attendant challenges as well as bringing huge advantages.
Two hundred years is a short time in societal terms so whilst all in New Zealand are benefiting from living in a First World economy, some challenges still remain and Māori are over-represented in many negative outcome statistics.
Cicero said that study of the past "...casts light on reality and is a guide to life".
Understanding our full history can empower us and aid us in creating our future. Hiding from our past weakens us as a nation.
• Cam Calder is a doctor who was a National Party MP from 2009 to 2014.