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The prime minister said changes would be made to the national curriculum so New Zealand history was taught in primary and secondary schools.
The changes would cover the entire breadth of the curriculum, including NCEA.
History lessons are expected to include the arrival of Māori, early colonisation, the Treaty of Waitangi, immigration to New Zealand, and the evolving identity of the country.
Aotearoa's involvement in the Pacific will also be covered.
Currently, under the curriculum, schools can choose how New Zealand history is covered, meaning there's variation in how it's taught, leaving much to chance what students learn.
"This government is committed to a better New Zealand that we can all be proud of and which recognises the value of every New Zealander," Ms Ardern said.
She said the government had listened to growing calls from New Zealanders to know more about their own history and identity.
"With this in mind, it makes sense for the National Curriculum to make clear the expectation that our history is part of the local curriculum and marau ā kura in every school and kura.
"The curriculum changes we are making will reset a national framework so all learners and ākonga are aware of key aspects of New Zealand history and how they have influenced and shaped the nation."
The reset is expected to include:
- The arrival of Māori to Aotearoa New Zealand
- First encounters and early colonial history of Aotearoa New Zealand
- Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty of Waitangi and its history
- Colonisation of, and immigration to, Aotearoa New Zealand, including the New Zealand Wars.
- Evolving national identity of Aotearoa New Zealand in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries
- Aotearoa New Zealand's role in the Pacific
- Aotearoa New Zealand in the late 20th century and evolution of a national identity with cultural plurality.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the Ministry of Education would work with historical and curriculum experts, iwi and mana whenua, Pacific communities, students and ākonga, parents and whānau, and other groups with a strong interest in shaping how New Zealand history is taught.
"Once the updates to the curriculum are known, existing supports will be reviewed and an implementation package with teaching and learning resources will be developed ready for the 2022 school year."
The curriculum changes will come into effect in 2022. They will be gazetted during 2020 in order to give schools and kura time to prepare to implement them.
The initial work would be funded through Ministry of Education baselines, meaning there would be no additional funding required at this stage.
No other parts of the curriculum would be altered through the change.