The Government announced last week that within the next three years, New Zealand history will be taught in all schools and kura. We talked to local students to hear what they think.
Government's decision to make New Zealand history compulsory has been positively received by a local school in Whangārei.
According to Thursday's announcement, the history curriculum will include the arrival of Māori to New Zealand, early colonisation, the Treaty of Waitangi, the New Zealand Wars and the development of the New Zealand national identity. Aotearoa's role in the Pacific would also be included.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the ministry would work in collaboration with historical experts, iwi and mana whenua, Pacific communities, as well as students to implement the curricular changes by 2022.
Teachers and students at Whangārei Boys' High School welcomed the proposal, saying New Zealand history played a significant part in the social and cultural narrative of Northland.
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Finn Harvey and Flynn Symonds from Year 13, and Year 12 student Luca Kuraia take history classes at NCEA level and say the proposed changes were important in helping New Zealanders understand today's political and social issues.
"History class has been lacklustre in the past," Finn said. "Especially in Social Studies, the main focus has been on the Treaty of Waitangi," Finn said. "But there are many more subjects that are important to learn about."
Luca agrees, saying because the Treaty of Waitangi was repeatedly being taught at a basic level it eventually becomes boring for students.
If made mandatory, history class could expand further on different topics and provide more in-depth knowledge, he said.
Deputy Principal Keir Morrison teaches Social Studies in Year 10. He says when he announces a unit on the Treaty of Waitangi in class, there was always an audible sigh by the students.
"I have to do quite the sell-job," Morrison explained.
"I tell the boys that we are not going to look too much at the treaty itself. They often have that done to death. Instead, we're looking at the response and focus most closely on is the Northern Wars that literally happened on our doorstep."
Boys' High currently teaches history in Year 9 and 10 as part of Social Studies which is merged with geography. History at NCEA level is optional and attracts roughly 15 per cent of the students.
Today, teachers expand on New Zealand history at Whangārei Boys' High, but that hasn't always been the case.
"I look at this generation now and hear their interest in New Zealand history, but when I was at school, we wanted to learn about the rest of the world," Morrison said.
"We still had too much cultural cringe – New Zealand wasn't worthy, and the rest of the world was where it was at.
"It's a generational shift, and it's fantastic. We are far more proud of who we are and our place in the world."
He says part of the change is inspired by the need to know who we are as a nation. Both Pākehā and Māori, could "whakapapa back" to their origins by knowing more about their local history.
Head prefect Flynn Symonds says part of New Zealand's cultural heritage was a negative stigma towards non-Europeans. He believes teaching more history in class could help society overcome those social issues.
"Our history is extremely relevant today. There still wide debates on land issues and compensation for the Māori," Flynn said.
"My mother, who works in the health sector, often has to investigate through the Treaty of Waitangi. Even our school is built on Māori land."
In late 2015, attention towards the history curriculum grew after two high school students from Otorohanga College the Waikato presented a petition to parliament calling for a commemoration day of the New Zealand Wars.
The topic gained traction again with the ongoing Ihumātao protests. Last month, the New Zealand History Teachers' Association presented a petition to a select committee at parliament to make New Zealand history compulsory.
Ritchie Burrows is the Northland representative for the history teachers' association and the History Teacher in Charge at Boys' High.
He says creating a standard curriculum would help develop a coherent model of educational support so that teachers feel empowered to cover specific topics.
"We want to have a historical narrative – of the Treaty and the bicultural relationships in our country," Burrows said.
"By teaching history, we're trying to make good citizens; students who are informed and can research their own opinions and can discern good from bad information.
"It's about giving them a skillset so they can inquire for themselves. What they need, is a base level of knowledge on which to construct their lives in adulthood."
Burrows history classes typically rely on reading, writing, and analysing sources as an essential component. However, the teacher describes himself as "a talker" and initiates discussions around controversial aspects of history which is well received amongst the students.
"One of the reasons why I love history is that there's a conversation," Flynn said.
"It's not like in math where we're simply taught how to do it. In history, you get ideas, you debate on them, you form opinions and develop conclusions."
Finn added; "It's really effective because it dragged the whole class into the subject."
Student Luca hopes that the new curriculum would make history more accessible and appealing for more Māori students.
"I noticed, for the most part, the students who take history are Pākehā. But if there are to be more Māori taking the subject, they can offer more insight into the culture because they have more first-hand experience with it."