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Concepts, conceptual understandings, values and perspectives

For more information on assessing concepts, conceptual understandings, values, and perspectives pertaining to this unit, see Assessment of concepts.

Students must demonstrate their understanding of concepts and 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.

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

Perspectives are the expressions of points of view, informed by people’s values. (Note: The achievement standards are currently (as at 2010) being changed to align better with the new curriculum. These changes will be phased in over the next few years. In the new achievement standards, perspectives will be taking a slightly different role – the progression will not be as defined and artificial. However, perspectives will still be important.)

Other aspects of unit planning to consider

Building conceptual understandings

Look for understanding of the concepts relevant at each level and understanding of the links between concepts. Look for evidence of conceptual understanding through the students’ ability to extend their understanding to other related situations. (See below for a progression of conceptual understandings emanating from Kia Mau).

Incremental complexity of conceptual understandings in Kia Mau


Social studies

Level 6 

Social justice

Social studies

Level 7

Responsibilities and rights

Social studies

Level 8

Ideologies shaping society

Introduction: The 28th (Māori) Battalion and the impact of war on Māori communities
Leadership Qualities and achievements of Māori soldiers    
Social justice Inequality and the struggle for justice

Participation in war

– different perspectives


Impact of loss on



Significance of atua (gods)

Importance of kaitiaki (guardians)


tikanga (customs)


Developing critical thinking

Encourage students to debate/discuss ideas in a respectful way. Look for creative and critical thinking around values and perspectives.

Best Evidence Synthesis (BES) findings

Make connections to the lives of our students – by drawing on relevant, inclusive content, for example, research within whānau/hapū about 28th (Māori) Battalion connections and any associated waiata/haka.

  • Align experiences to important outcomes – identify prior knowledge such as that of important people, places, and events related to war and the 28th (Māori) Battalion and/or to kapa haka performers/composers/compositions; align activities and resources to intended outcomes; provide opportunities to revisit concepts and learning processes; attend to the learning of individual students.
  • Build and sustain a learning community – establish relationships by encouraging students to share their stories and experiences; share power with students in establishing success criteria for the learning outcomes.
  • Design experiences that interest students and meet diverse motivational needs; use a variety of activities.

Values and attitudes in The New Zealand Curriculum

  • Facilitate learning experiences that will help students to develop values that instil confidence, self-worth, and an enduring respect for education – with a capacity to empathise and a willingness to participate fully.
  • Help students to work cooperatively and be generous/caring – while being knowledgeable about their genealogy/kinship links.
  • Assist students to understand traditional Māori values of whānau, hapū and iwi (family, subtribe and tribe) to ensure access to the Māori world – and nurturing from whānau and teachers.
  • Assist students to understand the values of the wider world, so that they are respectful of the mana and spirituality of others, even when their attitudes and values differ.

Teaching as inquiry

Use evidence of effective strategies from other contexts to inform strategies that are most likely to help students learn; establish valued outcomes, based on the curriculum, community expectations, and student needs and dispositions; consider evidence from Kia Mau about what happened as a result of the teaching and implications for future teaching.

Assessment opportunity

Identify students’ prior knowledge of the 28th (Māori) Battalion. Look for their development of an argument using logic, reasoning, and creative thinking about concepts explored in this unit.

Key competencies

  • Using language, symbol and text is relevant in this resource as the understandings within are based around the use of haka and waiata, which are a uniquely Māori way of expression.
  • Many of the tasks require research to be undertaken by students. This leads to a reflection on the managing self competency.
  • The other competencies of thinking, relating to others, and participating and contributing also have their place in various activities, and would offer evaluation possibilities.