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Assessment of concepts, conceptual understandings, values and perspectives

The intention of this section is to provide examples that demonstrate:

  • students’ understanding of concepts as used in social studies
  • their interpretation of values and perspectives as used in social studies.

A concept is a general idea or thought expressed in a single word or a simple phrase. The key concepts covered in this resource are social justice, leadership, bereavement, spirituality, and customs/traditions.

Conceptual understandings are what learners know and understand about a concept – generalisations or big ideas. Students can demonstrate such understandings by:

  • explaining one or more concepts
  • showing connections between concepts, for example, participation in war and the resultant societal changes and consequences
  • providing relevant examples to illustrate big ideas
  • transferring their understandings to new/related contexts, for example, today’s youth joining the army and being sent to Afghanistan
  • identifying a range of perspectives to interpret concepts.

Examples of conceptual understandings in Kia Mau could include the following:

  • Waiata and haka are important ways of transferring Māori language and culture, Māori knowledge, and Māori values – thus shaping our identity.
  • Waiata/haka (about, for, or used by the Māori Battalion) can illustrate how cultures adapt and change – and the implications thereof for society.
  • People’s perspectives of Māori participating in war (both past and present) differ.
  • The gods (atua) are associated with waiata/haka composition.
  • Leadership roles bring rights, privileges and responsibilities.
  • Group membership is important for Māori, for example, family, community, subtribe, tribe; kapa haka.
  • Being accepted and treated as equal citizens of Aotearoa was an important factor for Māori engagement in the Second World War.

Examples of concepts in Kia Mau

Key concept


What to look for 

  • Who were some of the inspirational Māori leaders of the Second World War?
  • What were the roles (and achievements) of Māori women leaders during this time?
  • What of the unsung heroes/leaders who remained on home soil (both female and male)?
  • Who are some of our inspirational Māori leaders of today?
  • How did/do these leaders work to promote social justice?

Students can:

  • understand what qualities make a good leader
  • identify other leaders during the Second World War era, including women
  • compare leaders – both past and present
  • describe work done by leaders, in the past and today, to ensure social justice for Māori.



  • Why did Māori consider it a responsibility to enlist?
  • How did whānau cope with the loss of loved ones?
  • How did the loss of male Māori role models impact on Māori communities both during and post-war?

Students can:

  • explain about Māori communities meeting their responsibilities by sending soldiers to war
  • acknowledge that there are consequences of going to war – both in the arena of war and back at home
  • transfer understandings to present day contexts, for example, why young people continue to enlist for military service today despite the chances of being killed.
  • Who are the atua (gods)?
  • What atua/deities can be called upon prior to, during, and after battle?
  • What are the attributes/strengths of various atua?
  • What are some of the deeds of the atua?

Students can:

  • explain concepts relating to spirituality, and its significance, in terms of responses made by soldiers and their whānau
  • understand haka origins in traditional Māori history and how these understandings transfer to today
  • transfer understanding of atua (gods) in ancient haka/waiata to atua in contemporary waiata/haka.

Values are the beliefs and understandings of individuals, groups, and communities.

At curriculum level 6, students can identify different values positions (points of view), then explain the reasons why people hold such views, using phrases such as: “I think/believe … because…”

In Kia Mau, for example, the story of Haane Manahi is told to illustrate the opinions of some individuals, groups, and institutions that a social injustice occurred when he was turned down for the Victoria Cross.

Beyond stating people’s values and explaining why they hold such viewpoints, students are also expected to identify the consequences for society of people holding particular values positions.

An example from Kia Mau would be the implications of people holding differing opinions and the work done to promote social justice for Haane.

At curriculum level 6, the key focus is on how communities and nations meet their responsibilities and exercise their rights.

In Kia Mau, it could be said that Ngata believed it was important for Māori to go to war because their participation would be conducive to their recognition as New Zealand citizens. This is in contrast to Te Puea’s stance against Māori participating in the war.

Students can describe ways that people respond to values positions and provide possible reasons why. In reference to Kia Mau, this could be due to:

  • a particular view on life, for example, Kingitanga influence on Te Puea, which swayed her opinion on participation in European war
  • support for a particular cause, for example, Ngata’s support for the war effort in order to have Māori recognised as NZ citizens, or the actions of Apirana Ngata and Te Puea in promoting kapa haka as a means of Māori language maintenance and cultural revival in an ever-changing world
  • knowledge of past events, for example, alienation of land and loss of language
  • the outcome of a cost /benefit analysis, for example, gaining citizenship at the cost of Māori lives being lost
  • personal gain, for example, MP Taurekareka Henare being favourably disposed to Ngāpuhi men enlisting, and possibly aiming to increase his electoral support, because of his views on utu/revenge (emanating from past injustices to his people).

At curriculum level 8, students can:

  • explain and analyse relationships between values positions within a values system (an integrated set of shared values – dynamic in nature because of the way values change and adapt)
  • explain the significance of these relationships for society.

In Kia Mau, the values system studied is that of Māori culture – how the spiritual relationship between Māori and atua (gods) influenced their values positions on war and how this is illustrated in waiata and haka. The significance (for Māori society) of the relationship between Ngata and Te Puea is also relevant.

Perspectives are the expressions of points of view, informed by people’s values.

In social studies, perspectives are based on an understanding of individual or community viewpoints through to world views, for example, feminism, political ideologies, environmentalism, religious ideologies, economic ideologies, and cultural belief systems.

Students need to use real people and specific contexts to express their understanding of perspectives.

Within the context of Māori participation in the Second World War, they could analyse the different viewpoints of Te Puea and MP Taurekareka Henare, both Māori. For example, Te Puea believed that Māori should not go to the Second World War because they owed no responsibility to Europeans, whose war it was. (It could be suggested that her viewpoint was shaped by her spiritual belief system around the King movement.) On the other hand, Taurekareka Henare, a Māori MP during the Second World War, believed that Māori should fight on overseas battlefields because they had a responsibility to avenge the deaths of their forebears. (His viewpoint emanated from his spiritual belief in utu/revenge, requiring descendants to ensure that debts are paid.)

Within the context of gender, students could (through the waiata "E Pari Rā", for example) explore the perspectives of the men being at war overseas and the women being left at home in Aotearoa. The mothers felt bereft at the prospect of their sons being away at war because their absence left a gap in the whānau/community. (It could be said that this perspective was shaped by the Māori world view about the complementarity between Māori men and women.) From the male point of view, the men had mixed feelings about going to war because they were caught between their sense of adventure and their sense of responsibility. (This was perhaps shaped by their cultural world view that men are warriors who protect women and children.)