History’s what people are trying to hide from you. –Hilary Mantel

In this issue

  • Reflections on the Gallipoli talk.
  • The upcoming May session – Glenda Robb on The Changing Face of Queen Elizabeth ParkTuesday 18 May 
  • The proposed Years 1-10  New Zealand history curriculum
  • Other talks coming up. 

Putting Gallipoli in perspective

About 55 people attended the April talk which was designed to dispel some of the myths about the campaign, notably the idea that Gallipoli was a key element in establishing New Zealand’s identity. There was no question that the Kiwis served with honour and courage, but the leadership was poor, the conditions were appalling and the food and support for the men fighting was substandard. The veterans who returned didn’t want to talk about it.

One positive outcome was the bond that developed between Turkey and New Zealand. However, to the disappointment of some in the audience, the truth was revealed that Kemal Ataturk didn’t say the “immortal”, often repeated words about the Johnnies and the Mehemets  … lying side by side in Turkish soil and that their mothers need not worry.. your sons are now lying in our bosom and are at peace. They were written by an Australian Gallipoli veteran, Patrick Campbell from Queensland. 

Our May Speaker – Glenda Robb on Queen Elizabeth Park

“What about the weta?” asked someone as we ploughed through the complexities of applying for funding to study the flora and fauna of Queen Elizabeth Park, Whareroa Farm Reserve and the Escarpment between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay.  “OK, why not… we’ve got birds, penguins, lizards, fish, stream health rare dune plants and pest control covered, weta may as well go in too.”  

That was the beginning in 2014 of a $300,000 project to explore the biodiversity of conservation land in the southern Kapiti Coast.  It hasn’t stopped since.  

In more of Glenda’s words, her talk will feature … a little bit of history and a lot about the flora and fauna of conservation land at the southern end of the Kapiti Coast.  From early Maori settlements, through whaling, European settlement, US Army and Marine occupation to the current focus on recreation and quiet enjoyment of our open spaces, there is plenty of human history in this area.   

All welcome – pass the word and bring your friends.

  • Tuesday 18 May at 7.30pm
  • Kapiti Uniting Church, 10 Weka Road, Raumati Beach.
  • Gold coin koha. Thanks. 
  • A light supper will be served following the talk.

The proposed NZ History Curriculum for Year 1-10 students

As probably the key element in the He Puapua strategy designed to achieve joint Maori-Crown sovereignty by 2040, the proposed curriculum is hugely important. I would urge members, if they haven’t already, to make a submission. Feel free to use anything from my effort below, if it helps. You have until May 31. 

The curriculum statement can be found by Googling Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories – NZ Curriculum Online

The font is small so I decided to get it enlarged to A3 size.

If you don’t feeling like wading through the small print of the whole 11 page document, page 2 provides a summary of what it’s all about.

SOME GENERAL COMMENTS

  • When it was first announced that New Zealand History would become compulsory for Year 1-10 students, respected historian Paul Moon remarked that a “warts and all” approach was essential. Moon observed: Of course, there are risks that if done poorly, compulsory history in our schools could veer in to the realm of indoctrination. Unfortunately the developers have fallen into that trap.
  • The draft document reads more like a syllabus statement for Maori Studies than a blueprint for our youngsters studying the history of their country. Of course the coverage of Maori history is important, but should not dominate. About 80% of the students who will be learning New Zealand History in schools from 2022 on, are non-Maori and the rest all have some non-Maori forebears.
  • The language of the document is loaded with too many unsubstantiated opinions and value judgements eg Colonisation began as part of a world-wide imperial project. The Greeks, Romans, Incas, Chinese, Mongols, Persians and other peoples were all imperialists a thousand and more years ago, long before modern European powers built empires. 
  • Many statements come across as emphatic truths, but are in fact debatable opinions.  For example, “big idea” number one: Maori history is the foundational and continuous history of Aotearoa New Zealand.  (See more later)
  • The draft is also very complex, contorted and wordy, and students would struggle to understand the language in many sections, especially the “progress outcomes”  – I know …, I  have …, I can … 
  • In breaking down the learning into Understand / Know / Do, the developers neglect the vital elements of skills and fundamental historical understandings. Some skills get a mention in the “Do” segment such as interpretation, but many are absent eg comprehension, perception, analysis, synthesis.

Coming up later in the year – exact dates and topics to be confirmed

An interesting mix. Negotiations are on-going to fill the October slot.

  • June – Larry Keim on the Marines impact on Kapiti.
  • July – Desiree Jury on a topic of her choice.
  • August – John Robinson on the colourful Northland chief Hone Heke.
  • September – Mark Dickson on the changing Kapiti coastline.
  • November – David Hadfield on his father Barry Hadfield first mayor of the Kapiti District.

We are always happy to get suggestions for talks and possible speakers.

Best wishes

Roger Childs and John Robinson