Social Sciences Resources for Primary Schools

Social Sciences in the New Zealand Curriculum draw upon the important stories of our past to help ākonga make sense of our present and inform their future decisions and actions.  

Our aim at Essential Resources is to help New Zealand primary school teachers tell Aotearoa New Zealand’s story. Aotearoa New Zealand History and You is the perfect resource for implementing Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories | Te Takanga o Te Wā within your classroom.  

In social studies, ākonga are challenged to reflect on local, national and global issues. Our resources get ākonga Thinking About Sustainability and Clued Up on Current Issues – so they can Understand, Know and Do the learning that matters. 


What does tangata whenua mean? 

Literally, tangata whenua means people of the land.  

Tangata whenua are the people who hold the authority in a place because of the deep relationships they have to the area through their or their ancestors’ births.  

Mana whenua is a spiritual authority to a particular area. Therefore, tangata whenua means people who hold mana whenua over a place.  

Aotearoa New Zealand History and You is a resource designed to support primary school history teachers in New Zealand. It describes how tangata whenua within Aotearoa New Zealand refers to the Māori people, who arrived here over 700 years ago. 

Tangata can refer to a specific group of people – whanau, hapū and iwi – or more broadly, to Māori as a whole. 

What resource supports teaching Aotearoa NZ History curriculum?  

The best resource to support Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories in the New Zealand Curriculum | Te Takanga o Te Wā in Te Marautanga is Aotearoa New Zealand History and You, written by Marie Langley and Vaughan Rapatahana.  

The resource is aimed at Level 1 to Level 4. Its content supports the refreshed social sciences learning area of the New Zealand Curriculum.   

The activities within Aotearoa New Zealand History and You encourage tamariki to think about our country’s past and how these events are relevant to our present and future. There are teaching ideas for including local curriculum, kupu Māori and Māori and Pakeha perspectives within your history lessons. Activities also focus on te Tiriti o Waitangi for Years 4 to 8. 

How can I create best practice social science unit plans?  

Best practice social science unit plans are those that are aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).  

Essential Resources’ Curriculum Planning Made Easy illustrates unit plans for social sciences, science and technology. The resource has social sciences unit plans for Level 1 to Level 5. Each includes the corresponding Key Competencies, Strands and Achievement Objectives as written in the NZC.  

Teaching best practice involves differentiating lessons to suit ākonga diverse capabilities. Unit plans should allow teachers to plan to meet ākonga strengths and needs. The unit plans within Curriculum Planning Made Easy include areas for inclusion education planning – the adjusted learning outcomes and learning experiences.  

As we know, assessment is vital for meaningful learning. Unit plans should include assessment for and of learning, as seen in our resource. 

It is up to the individual teacher whether they prefer hard-copy or digital unit plans. For those who like digital planning solutions, check out iUgo.  

Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories | Te Takanga o Te Wā has already been added to the iUgo planning templates. The unit plans, therefore, include both the old Achievement Objectives and new Understand, Know, Do framework, “Giving you confidence that you are always up to date with best-practice guidelines.”