One of the highlights of 2023 at Helensville Te Awaroa Museum was a series of well-received talks on Aotearoa’s history, given by Arina Bosch and her mother Leigh, the organisation’s President. Motivated by changes to the NCEA social studies classes curriculum (for students in Year 1 to Year 10), the talks were titled Polynesian Migration, Becoming Maori, Tribal Society, First Contacts with Europeans, Kaipara’s History and Matariki. “The idea of the talks was to do a sweeping overview from Pacific migration up to immediately before the Treaty with the hope of raising some of the achievements and events that are sometimes overlooked,” Arina explained.
Arina was keen to help expand the conversation around New Zealand history by challenging received wisdoms, “There’s a lot happening around elevating our histories and I wanted to contribute to that. I think many of us who whakapapa to Ngati Whatua have been inspired by the mahi of the Pihema, Kapea, Wikiriwhi and Skipper whanau to name a few, who have shown tireless dedication to reinvigorating our language and stories and artforms. It’s made us all want to contribute in whatever small ways we can.”
Arina says the curriculum change was asked for by a NZ History Teachers Association petition. “It was about creating a push towards enforceable inclusion of more of our own history, not to the exclusion of other things, but it would be guaranteed a place.” Bringing teachers up to speed has included training seminars, feedback loops and conference days. “The underlying message is that history is constructed and contested - it’s the story of what happened, and it looks different through different lenses. It’s a case of treading lightly, there’s not an intention to reframe any narrative as the ‘right’ one. It is more to elevate the conversation. History should stand up against rigorous debate.”
The talks at the Helensville Te Awaroa Museum were designed to help schools resource this new curriculum area and feedback so far has been extremely positive.