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Introductory unit

Kotahi te kōhao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro mā, te miro pango, te miro whero.

There is only one eye of the needle through which the white, black and red threads must pass.

Links to social sciences

Strands: Identity, Culture and Organisation, and Continuity and Change.

  • This unit has been designed as a generic unit for curriculum levels 6, 7, and 8. It will provide a base upon which the three successive units can be built. Teachers can adapt their teaching to suit the level being taught.

Key concepts

Customs and traditions (and introducing the concepts of leadership, social justice, bereavement and spirituality, which will be the focus of the three units that follow).

Focus of learning

In this introductory unit, students explore customs and traditions pertaining to waiata/haka that have an association with the 28th Māori Battalion. View The evolution of haka from traditional to contemporary, where Te Keepa Stirling discusses the use of haka in traditional and contemporary times.

Students will also acknowledge the changes to Māori society as a consequence of war. View Women’s leadership, which emphasises women's role in keeping the home fires burning, and How did men enlist, and what were they like when they returned?, where Taipari Munro discusses the effect of war on the soldiers.

Through this context, students are expected to consider:

  • the reasons and ways that people organise themselves to meet their needs
  • the rights, roles, and responsibilities of people as they interact within groups
  • the links between culture and identity and the outcomes of cultural interaction.

View Nolan Raihania – ease of learning Italian, where a veteran explains the ease with which Māori soldiers picked up the Italian language.

In addition, students will extend their understanding of:

  • the relationships between people and past events (view How should haka be performed?, where Te Keepa Stirling discusses the influence of our ancestors)
  • the interpretations of those relationships over time (view Adapting tikanga, where Taipari Munro discusses the influence of Christianity and the resultant changes in traditional Māori practices)
  • the beliefs and influences that have shaped and continue to shape society (view Traditional rituals – te tohi o ngā karaka whati, which features a particular ritual performed on men from Te Taitokerau before they went to war).

The other concepts (leadership, social justice, bereavement, and spirituality) should be given some consideration as an introduction to further work that will be undertaken as Kia Mau progresses. In this way, students will be able to formulate questions relating to their own interests and perhaps their own (or whānau/hapū/iwi) experiences.


  • Describing significant aspects.
  • Explaining perspectives and values (Te hononga o te iwi kāinga ki ngā hōia, where Tama Huata talks about the soldiers valuing home, especially their mothers).
  • Analysing social actions and evaluating the significance to our society.

Learning outcomes

Students could:

  • Describe their own and other people’s current understandings of the 28th Māori Battalion, waiata/haka associated with the Battalion, and the Second World War. (View Tuini Ngāwai and Te Hokowhitu a Tū concert group, which backgrounds Tuini Ngāwai’s role in supporting Apirana Ngata in the war effort. View Battle at Takrouna, for a description of the Battle of Takrouna, and Who encouraged men to go to war? Why?, for an explanation of why some were so eager to enlist).
  • Describe the impact of the war on Māori communities. (View Nolan Raihania – impact on community, where a veteran talks about the impact of war on his community Te Muriwai, and Welcoming the soldiers home to the marae, where a kuia recounts her feelings about some soldiers having returned home, while others not).
  • Respond to/share understandings, feelings, memories and images conveyed in the lyrics of the waiata E Pari Rā. (View Rendition of the waiata E Pari Rā, showing this waiata being sung by whānau members, and Who wrote E Pari Rā and why?, where Tama Huata discusses the story behind the song and why it is a song of farewell).
  • Generate questions that they would like answered throughout this study related to the achievement objectives at their level.

Suggested activities for introductory unit

View Rendition of the waiata "E Pari Rā". Ask the students what feelings, memories and images it evokes. Discuss the lyrics and the story they tell.

Divide the students into groups. On copy master 1 (below), each group is to fill in the column about prior learning by brainstorming what they already know (collectively) about the 28th Māori Battalion and relevant waiata/haka.

Get the students to generate some questions (based on the gaps in their collective knowledge) that they would like answered about waiata/haka associated with the 28th Māori Battalion. Enter these questions onto copy master 1.

Display these charts around the room, as they will become part of the focus questions for the unit.


PDF icon. Copy master 1 (PDF 32 KB)