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Te Whāriki and Aotearoa New Zealand's histories (ANZH)

Histories tell stories of relationships with people, places, and things.

It is often through local stories that we gain rich insights into these relationships and how events of the past impact on today.

These stories align to the bicultural intentions of the principles in Te Whāriki:

  • Whakamana | Empowerment
  • Kotahitanga | Holistic development
  • Whānau tangata | Family and community
  • Ngā hononga | Relationships

Culturally responsive, local curriculum design begins with the histories, narratives, pakiwaitara (stories), and pūrākau (ancient stories) of not just the place where your service is located physically. It also incorporates the histories of the people, places, and things of significance to the whānau and tamariki who attend your service.

How histories can inform your practice

Wisdom of our tīpuna and the 28th Māori battalion

  • Transcript

    Transcript Transcript

    Erana: Ko Pātangata te maunga, ko Wharekahika te awa Ko Hinemaurea te marae, ko Ngāti Porou te iwi, ko Tūwhakairiora te hapū, ko Horouta te waka. Ko wai ahau? Ko Erana Haerewa ahau. Nō Wharekahika, nō Ngāti Porou hoki. Ko au te kaihautū o te waka o Te Puna Reo Puhi Kaiti. Tokoono ōku tamariki, tokowaru ōku mokopuna. Kei a ratou aku taonga mō apōpō. Tēnei te mihi ki a koutou i tēnei rā.

    My name is Erana Haerewa and I am the tumuaki of Te Puna Reo Puhi Kaiti. We are a Māori immersion centre, licensed for 37 tamariki. We have 11 kaiako within our team and our curriculum delivery is based on Ngāti Poroutanga. My leadership role here at Te Puna Reo is guided by a well known Ngāti Porou leader, Tā Apirana Turupa Ngata – 'E tipu e rea', tōna whakatauākī.

    E tipu e rea mō ngā rā o tō ao Ko tō ringa ki ngā rākau a te Pākehā Hei oranga mō tō tinana Ko tō ngākau ki ngā tāonga a ō tīpuna Māori Hei tikitiki mō tō māhunga Ko tō wairua ki te atua Nānā nei ngā mea katoa

    This whakatauākī, it drives me in my leadership role and my team as he states, go forward and take the tools of the Pākehā so I’m looking at taking the best tools to enrich the learning for our tamariki Māori here at Te Puna Reo and also holding onto my values of my tīpuna and guided with respect for the tamariki, respect for my teachers who I have alongside me.

    In kaiako hui I share whakataukī, I share books that I’ve read, I share research, I’m an avid reader, I love research. If I’m going to be expecting excellence, I’ve got to be modelling excellence to my staff and working alongside them and showing them that I am actively engaged and that I am driving the waka with a vision of excellence.

    Guided by the strength of our Māori leaders in education and inspired and motivated to create an atmosphere of learning here at Puna Reo where it’s innovative, where it’s creative, where teachers aren’t held down, where they’re inspired to go outside the box.

    Sometimes the waka goes a bit wobbly and I have to have hard conversations and remind our teachers about our tīpuna that went to war to fight for the price of citizenship and about the hard work and the sacrifices that they made. So that’s a little technique that I have and because we all resonate with the 28th Māori battalion and the mana that they had for the struggles and for the commitment that they had for te iwi Māori, ko tēnā te mea nui ki Te Puna Reo.


This is a section from the video on slide six of the Leadership for learning downloadable workshop on exploring leadership for learning and what it means for you.

Knowing your place

  • Transcript

    Transcript Transcript

    Narrator: Here is an opportunity to broaden your thinking about place. Bearing in mind what Te Whāriki says, “The expectation is that each early childhood service will use Te Whāriki as a basis for weaving with tamariki, parents, and whānau its own local curriculum of valued learning, taking into consideration also the aspirations and learning priorities of hapū, iwi, and community.” (p. 8)

    On the slide you can see some ideas to consider when discussing place-based learning.

    Do you know what flora is indigenous in your region? Who planted those old trees?

    What do you know about colonisation in your area?

    What are the stories about your town, your area, your place?

    Who are your local heroes – past and present?

    What are the special places in your community and why?

    A great deal has been written already about deciding what learning matters so in this slide we offer you a different way to think about it.

    This model comes from a well known Professor of Law, Laura Lundy, who was concerned that children’s views were overlooked in matters that concern them, and that too often, the grown-ups, like kaiako, made assumptions about what tamariki thought and felt. Each box in the matrix represents an important element of the conversation.

    Laura Lundy came up with an idea for us adults to use when considering what matters to tamariki, which can be applied to how we think about what learning matters. For example, the Space box incorporates place-based learning. It alerts us to the physical environment where we hold conversations about what learning matters.

    Where do you talk to parents and tamariki? What else is going on? What resources support your conversations about place and learning? Think about the unknown, the spiritual, and the places in between.

    Think about Voice: Who speaks? Whose voices are heard? Who is not heard?

    Audience is very important: Who do you talk to? Is it the same people all the time? Who is not in the room? What will you do about what you have heard?

    This is the Influence box. This is a mechanism for holding you accountable for what you have heard – there is an expectation that you will act on that. And remember: Keep it real, relevant, and rewarding.

    Have a go at the Space box. How do you facilitate a discussion about what learning matters to your service? Where do you talk to parents and tamariki? What else is going on in that space?

    What resources support your conversations about place and learning? And remember, think about the unknown, the spiritual, and the spaces in between.

    Talking about what learning matters is a good place to begin thinking about curriculum design, and it's also essential to discussions about Matika, maranga – a call to action.”


This is a section of Webinar 1 in the Matika Maranga series: Designing local curriculum.

Focus on Pacific visual languages and culture

Patterns drawn by children inspired by the art from their Pacific Island.

In an article in The First Years Journal Ngā Tau Tuatahi, Susana Smith asks for greater focus on Pacific visual languages and culture in early learning services.

She argues for the use of Pacific patterns, symbols, metaphor, and narratives to affirm, connect, and awaken the Pacific creative spirit.

Because of “the privileging of Western histories, theories, practices, and discourses”, Pacific visual languages and cultures are “in danger of becoming mere artefacts of curiosity, rather than a living curriculum.”

  • Look into the particular stories and art practices that are unique to your families, and the countries, districts, and villages they come from.
  • Draw inspiration from the work of artists and storytellers that share the Pacific cultures you aspire to support and nurture.
  • Let children learn from the expertise of elders in ways that inspire them – the children – to create.


Smith, S. (2018). “Tau tufuga Niue: Contextualising arts in the early years within Aotearoa New Zealand”, The First Years: Ngā Tau Tuatahi, New Zealand Journal of Infant and Toddler Education, 20 (1): 24-27.