Time to move beyond colonisers' version of NZ history

September 10, 2019

Time to move beyond colonisers' version of NZ history

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson speaks at Ngā Wai o Horotiu. Photo: Hayley Twort

Inclusive history education in schools would be a way to reduce false and prejudicial narratives within New Zealand society, a recent hui at the Auckland University of Technology heard.

Co-leader of the Green Party, Marama Davidson, said she had repeatedly had to tell people that the occupied land at Ihumātao was stolen and not sold by iwi.

“That’s an issue about our overall education system and our schools not teaching Māori colonial history," she told the journalism hui at the Ngā Wai o Horotiu marae.

“There’s a narrative out there that frames Māori as greedy . . .and when you have grown up in a country that has enforced that, one minute you see an occupation, the first thing you think of is, ‘They are just greedy. They sold their land already how much more do they want?’

“That is wrong, wrong, wrong.”

Under the New Zealand education system, history is an optional subject when students reach Year 11.

Reverend Mua Strickson-Pua, who identifies strongly with his Samoan culture, also believes there is room in the education system for better teaching of New Zealand history.

“A lot of New Zealanders don’t realise that New Zealand invaded Samoa in 1914.

"A lot of New Zealanders don’t realise that a lot of our leaders were imprisoned from Samoa . . . this could have something to do with fact that we don’t actually teach Aotearoa New Zealand history.

“People need to be aware, especially if they are going to be a voice to speak for those communities.”

A petition calling for consistent teaching of Māori colonial history in New Zealand was made in February by the New Zealand History Teachers Association.

Tayyaba Khan

Tayyaba Khan. Photo: Demelza Jackson

Founder of the Khadija Leadership Network, an organisation that supports female Muslim leaders, Tayyaba Khan says false depictions of cultures can have serious effects on society and individuals. She has especially noticed this with how her own Muslim culture is presented in media.

“A UK survey showed that over a quarter of children aged between 10 and 16 believed Islam encourages terrorism . . . we almost always see Muslims associated with very violent images so the plea really is to get out there and present more positive images of us.”

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