Post: Aotearoa New Zealand Histories primary resources



Aotearoa New Zealand Histories primary resources

Aotearoa New Zealand and You and Discovering Aotearoa New Zealand – two series of engaging Aotearoa New Zealand Histories resources that align with the refreshed curriculum and create meaningful learning.
Aotearoa New Zealand Histories resources from Essential Resources

Aotearoa New Zealand’s history is rich and complex. It’s valuable for our young people to learn about their country’s past and how it impacts their current lives. With this in mind, Essential Resources has released two new series of Aotearoa New Zealand histories resources for primary school students.

Explore our Aotearoa New Zealand Histories resources ...

Aotearoa New Zealand History and You

Written by Marie Langley and Vaughan Rapatahana, this series provides primary and intermediate school teachers with a wealth of content and activities for Aotearoa history lessons for Years 1 to 8. Activities are divided into three levels. Consequently, it is easy for teachers to choose the ones that best suit the learning level of their class.

The central aim of these NZ history books is to take account of the perspectives and integral roles of both Māori and Pākehā in shaping our human history.

Content and activities develop students’ understanding of the first people to Aotearoa from the Pacific islands region. Additionally, the activities demonstrate Māori evolving history as tangata whenua. Students will also learn about the early contact with the Europeans through to the current era.

In this way, these resources align with the Aotearoa NZ histories curriculum, Te Takanga o Te Wā, which focuses on the:

“Interactions that, across time, connect people to each other and to place, helping student students make sense of the present and informing their future decisions and actions”

Aotearoa NZ histories curriculum uses the Understand, Know, Do progressions model to guide curriculum design. Learning experiences should weave together the three elements to create ‘the learning that matters.’

This involves understanding six big ideas, developing knowledge of different contexts and doing inquiry-based practices.

In the activity ‘Plenty of Land’, you can see how Aotearoa New Zealand History and You weaves together the elements of the refreshed curriculum.

The activity presents learners with statements about the whenua that reflect the cultural views of Māori and Pākeha. Learners connect the speech bubble to the person most likely to say it.

In completing the activity, students are covering progress outcomes from each element:

  • Understand ­– people hold different perspectives on the world depending on their values, traditions, and experiences.
  • Know – te tino rangatiratanga me te kāwanatanga | Sovereignity, organisation and government.
  • Do – identifying values and perspectives.

Teachers will find they are often incorporating more than one progress outcome from an element when building lesson plans from Aotearoa New Zealand History and You – which is how it should be.

Discovering Aotearoa New Zealand

The Discovering Aotearoa New Zealand series teaches Kiwi students about our history and society. The aim is to develop their understanding of the diverse cultures that make up our modern country. Additionally, the books look at how we are all connected to the place we call home and each other.

Imaginative and interactive activities and games help students to learn Who we are, What makes us New Zealanders and Our lives in this motu. They incorporate the big ideas, contexts and practices promoted by the Understand, Know, Do progressions model. 

Two particular big ideas supported by the activities are: Māori history is the foundational and continuous history of Aotearoa New Zealand, and people hold different perspectives on the world depending on their values, traditions, and experiences. The culture and collective identity context is explored by many of the activities.


These New Zealand history books focus on developing inquiry-based practices and improving literacy and numeracy.

An example of this can be seen in the scene sequencing activity in Who we are. Teachers use the jumbled scene summary template to summarise the scenes in a chosen myth or legend.

After the teacher has read the story to the class, students retell the story by cutting out and putting the summaries in the correct order.

Furthermore, these Aotearoa NZ histories resources target different year levels in primary school. Who we are is for Years 1 to 3, while What makes us New Zealanders and Our lives in this motu are designed for Years 4 to 6.

Find out more about Discovering Aotearoa New Zealand

These Aotearoa NZ histories resources are informative, engaging, and designed to help young learners develop a deep understanding of our country’s past. Primary school teachers – be sure to take advantage of these resources to help your children learn about New Zealand history.


Ministry of Education. (2023). Te Mātaiaho The Refreshed New Zealand Curriculum: The learning areas of Mātaiaho Te ao tangata| social sciences including Aotearoa New Zealand Histories. Retrieved from this website.


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