National Party makes submission over 'recipe for boredom' NZ history curriculum

The National Party has made a submission to Parliament over the Government's draft New Zealand history curriculum, saying the proposed content is "a recipe for boredom".

Concerns have been raised about what students will learn in the curriculum by the Chinese community, Moriori and an expert panel.

National's education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says the party agrees that teaching New Zealand history is important, but they have serious concerns around particular elements to the proposal.

Goldsmith has now made a submission to Parliament on behalf of the National Party caucus.

One issue the party has is with the curriculum's three big ideas. They are that Māori history was the foundational and continuous history of Aotearoa New Zealand; colonisation and its consequences were central to the country's history, and the course of its history had been shaped by the exercise and effects of power.

Goldsmith says he has concerns the content will result in boredom.

"Aotearoa New Zealand's Histories is designed to be taught every year from years 1 to 10, with the same three 'big ideas' repeated and explored each year.

"Repeating and exploring the same themes for 10 years is a recipe for boredom and disengagement. Māori history, colonisation and the effects of power in our country, year in year out, will elicit only groans by years 6 or 7 unless the teacher is a miracle worker."

The party also believes the topics are "too narrow".

Goldsmith says they "don't do justice to our rich and multi-layered history in this country".

National is also warning of over-simplification and a sense of politicisation.

The party is recommending: 

  • That there is an explicit expectation that histories from other countries and eras are taught as well as New Zealand history
  • Either abandon the three 'big ideas' or expand them to six or seven so as to include other important themes explicitly
  • Dial back the sweeping statements

"The Prime Minister promised New Zealanders a history curriculum that would promote a 'better New Zealand'. National doesn't believe the current proposal does that," Goldsmith says.

The ACT Party has also made a submission on the draft curriculum and has set up a petition calling for a complete overhaul.

"The draft history curriculum divides history into villains and victims, contains significant gaps, and pushes a narrow set of highly political stories from our past," ACT's education spokesperson Chris Baillie said on Saturday.

"Jacinda Ardern promised a history curriculum that would promote a 'better New Zealand that we can all be proud of and which recognises the value of every New Zealander'. The draft curriculum's 'three big ideas' completely fail to achieve that."

He also believes the draft curriculum pushes "a number of left-wing narratives", including information about the welfare state, cultural appropriation, and a partnership between the Crown and Māori.

"It leaves out or brushes over growing civil rights and liberties, technological and scientific innovation, and our citizens' participation in two world wars," Baillie says.

He wants the history curriculum "radically redrafted" to give an "honest and inclusive" account of who New Zealand people are.

"If students are to be taught New Zealand history, they deserve an honest account of who we are as a nation."