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Kia Mau and the history curriculum guidelines: fitting in the Key Concepts, the Best Evidence Synthesis and the Key Competencies

Kia Mau can be incorporated into the history curriculum guidelines in a number of ways. The following is an outline of how the Māori Battalion, and its portrayal in this resource, can be incorporated into effective unit planning in history.

The Māori Battalion, Kia Mau and the Four Key Concepts in History

Key Concept 1: Significance

Historians weigh the importance, durability, and relevance of events, themes, and issues in the past and the appropriateness of using the past to provide contemporary lessons; historians debate what is historically significant and how and why the decisions about what is significant change.

- Key concept from New Zealand Curriculum Guides.

Students and teachers could:

  • Use Kia Mau to emphasise the importance to Māori of the achievements of the Māori Battalion. Even though these are difficult to quantify, the deeds of the Battalion had (and still have) a far reaching effect on the pride of Māori.
  • Debate the significance of the Māori Battalion in wider New Zealand and World War Two history.
  • Discuss at a higher level the way the Māori Battalion is remembered (For example, Kia Mau is a new resource. Why was it produced only recently? Why are many contemporary books being written about the Battalion? Elicit from students that the age of veteran soldiers means that interviews are becoming less and less common, as many original soldiers are dying.

Key Concept 2: Continuity and change

History examines change over time and continuity in times of change. Historians use chronology to place these developments in context. Historians debate what has changed, what has remained the same, and the impact of these changes.

- Key concept from New Zealand Curriculum Guides.

Students and teachers could:

  • Put the actions of the Māori Battalion in a wider world, and New Zealand, historical chronology. Where does the Battalion fit into wider history?
  • Discuss how the actions of the Māori Battalion link to other conflicts; for example, the Waikato Wars and land confiscation, and World War One.

Key Concept 3: Cause and effect

Historians investigate the reasons for and the results of events in history; they debate the causes of past events and how these events affect people’s lives and communities. Historians study relationships between events to identify pervasive themes, ideas, and movements, such as terrorism, revolution, and migration.

- Key concept from New Zealand Curriculum Guides.

Students and teachers could:

  • Study the causes and consequences of the actions of the Māori Battalion. This includes the consequences for whānau, iwi, and Aotearoa as a whole.
  • Discuss the relationship between Māori warfare in the past and World War Two. For example, the waiata title Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū (used in Kia Mau to represent C Company) refers to the Māori god/atua of war. The Māori Battalion continued the Māori warrior tradition by linking the skilled use of bayonets to that of taiaha, as well as continuing their skills as wily strategists.
  • Discuss the effect of the Māori war effort on the community. High casualties affected Māori leadership, women and the home front. Moreover, the migration to urban areas that followed World War Two created major social upheaval for many Māori.

Key Concept 4: Perspective

There are multiple perspectives on the past (both at the time and subsequently). Interpretations of the past are contested – historians base their arguments on historical evidence and draw from a variety of perspectives.

- Key concept from New Zealand Curriculum Guides.

Students and teachers could:

  • Use Kia Mau clips and other resources to discuss differing perspectives on the past: soldiers remembering, historians commenting through research, and people at the time trying to enlist Māori (for example, comparing Te Puea and Ngata’s role in recruitment).
  • Consider the perspectives of others involved in the war: the other battalions of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, British and German generals, and the public at home (including pacifists).

The Māori Battalion, Kia Mau, and the BES (Best Evidence Synthesis in the Social Sciences)

The Best Evidence Synthesis suggests four “mechanisms” to be aware of when planning effective teaching and learning in the social sciences. They align to the ideas in Kia Mau as follows:

1: Connection

Make authentic connections to students’ lives

Teachers could:

  • Show a clip of Willie Apiata receiving his Victoria Cross. Discuss why this was celebrated. What do the students remember of this event and its significance? What are the links to the past and/or the Māori Battalion itself? What would have been the significance for his whānau , and for Māori in general?
  • Discuss the ideas behind Māori and Pākehā soldiers volunteering to go to war. Why were many so enthusiastic? If students today were placed in a similar position, would they also volunteer to go to war? Why? Why not?

2: Alignment

Align learning experiences to important outcomes (including the achievement objectives or key competencies)

Teachers could:

  • Invite a member of the local community to share their experiences of World War Two, so that students can begin to understand how the experience is significant to New Zealanders – both then and today (History Achievement Objective 7.2)
  • Compare students’ lives today with those of young men or women in the 1940s. For example, Māori society was mainly rural, poor and based on the traditional model. (History Achievement Objective 6.2)

3: Community

Build and sustain a learning community

Teachers could:

  • Encourage students to draw on their own, or their community’s, history or whakapapa, using the methodology of oral history. Share the results of their research.
  • Ask students to work in groups to critique historical sources related to the Māori Battalion (such as clips from Kia Mau, photos, letters, diaries, the perspectives of allies and enemies) in order to identify and explain the perspectives of people in the past.

4: Interest

Design experiences that interest students

Teachers could:

  • Ask students to reconstruct the life of a chosen individual from the Māori Battalion (for example, by using gravestone information) and place that person in his or her authentic historical context.
  • Encourage students to research an aspect of the Māori Battalion that is of high personal interest to them. For example, students could choose to research a particular haka or waiata in more detail; or a specific person such as Ngarimu; or an aspect of the campaign such as the journey there, women and the home front; or the role that Ngata played in recruiting for the war.
  • Aitken, Graeme and Sinnema, Claire, Effective Pedagogy in Social Sciences/Tikanga a Iwi: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES), Ministry of Education, Wellington, 2008, pp. 49-50. (These pages contain an overview of the 4 key areas).

The Māori Battalion, Kia Mau and the Key Competencies

The Key Competencies should be incorporated, at least implicitly, in any effective teaching programme. Kia Mau can be used as a basis for including each of the Key Competencies in effective teaching and learning:

1: Thinking

Students are required to think critically about the meaning and nature of oral history and how it is transferred down as ‘memory’ in the Māori world. They are asked to evaluate, challenge and reconsider the way things are ‘remembered’.

2: Using Language, Symbols and Text

Students will explore the use of the language of ‘memory’ through haka and waiata and its interpretation, as a legitimate form of remembrance.

3: Managing self

Students will manage themselves through the activities outlined in the sample unit plans. Of particular value will be any inquiry based task related to Kia Mau and the Māori Battalion.

4: Relating to others

Students could use the ideas presented in Kia Mau to relate with others in the community, particularly local Māori. For many students, learning the cultural associations related to haka and waiata should help them understand more easily aspects of tikanga in the Māori world.

5: Participating and Contributing

Students have the opportunity to participate actively in the history presented by Kia Mau because of its grounding in local history/Aotearoa. Students could also contribute to a wider school, or community, understanding of haka and waiata as legitimate ways to transmit knowledge.


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