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When listening to Tamsin Hanly talk to Principals about her 'Histories of Aotearoa' resource at a M.A.C. hui in Auckland in 2014, I had a 'light bulb' moment. I had been trying ever since I was first Principal of Hurupaki School, to establish a true bi-cultural environment that valued the 25% Maori children, the 65% Pakeha children and the 10% 'others' - very small numbers of many other races - as well as pay tribute to the unique place of New Zealand in this mix.
Looking at MOE guidelines and publications that were available, I found them helpful in the 'why' we should be honouring Treaty of Waitangi principles in our schools but no-one seemed to have the 'how'. That was when the light went on - I could finally see how to lead this development in my school.
I pursued Tamsin, who was busy completing the writing of her resource, until she agreed to come and lead a Teacher-Only Day for us at the beginning of 2015. I had no pre-conceived ideas about how it would go, and I don't think Tamsin did either. Suffice to say, that the whole day was a huge success and the staff came on board with it very quickly. They were enthusiastic to include the first unit in the 2015 programme and made plans for how it would become an integral part of our school curriculum after that.
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Tamsin Hanly has created the resource that New Zealand schools have waited for since the Treaty of Waitangi first came into public view in the 1980s. Ever since that time, the teacher's lament has been "But how can I teach these difficult topics in the classroom?" Certainly, the curriculum now mentions the Treaty, and educational resources have been produced over the years, but there has been no single programme to help a school plan their approach to New Zealand's Māori and Pākehā culture and history in a cohesive way.
Tamsin Hanly has used her decades of teaching experience in bicultural and multi-cultural classrooms at Auckland's Newton Central School to design this six-unit programme for the whole school to adapt. Each booklet gives teachers rich background information to bring classroom activities to life with real characters in the context of history. As an experienced educator myself, I appreciate that she gives highly readable, relevant background, makes excellent suggestions for activities, and then trusts me to organise my learners in my own particular setting.
A unique strength of this resource is its generous treatment of Pākehā settler issues and worldviews, alongside a critique of how colonisation affects the Māori world.