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Key concepts in Māori and iwi histories: A critique of Te Takanga o te Wā (2015)

In 2019, the New Zealand government announced a “reset” of the national history curriculum, with the intention of including more Māori content and addressing ongoing petitions to make the New Zealand Wars compulsory in all schools. Two curricula - one for mainstream schools and the other for Māori immersion Kura - were developed, with each drawing on a recent Ministry of Education publication Te Takanga o te Wā (2015) to provide key insights to Māori history concepts and themes. The Māori curricula has since taken on the name of that document, and uses those themes in its new framework, while the mainstream curriculum also adopts some of these same concepts. But how relevant are these proposed themes and concepts to Māori history, and what have Māori and iwi historians and experts actually written or said about the significance of these concepts to Māori historical practice, content, and theory? This thesis critiques the five key themes and concepts presented in Te Takanga o te Wā and evaluates their relevance as leading Māori history concepts. These are Whakapapa, Tūrangawaewae; Mana-Motuhake; Kaitiakitanga, and Whānaungatanga. This study surveys the existing work produced by Māori historians and other experts over the past century, particularly the extent to which they have used these themes or discussed their significance to Māori and iwi historical practice and thinking. This dissertation argues that aside from whakapapa, the majority of the themes presented in Te Takanga o te Wā are not reflected in the historiography of the field, and that there are in fact a range of other crucial concepts missing. These include discussions about Wā, the importance of te reo Māori, tikanga, Mātauranga-a-iwi and other important approaches like “historical trauma”, “survivance”, Kaupapa Māori and decolonisation.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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