Year 8 - Lesson 2

Curriculum level:
Programme focus:
Why a Treaty?
Length of lesson:
45 – 90 minutes

Focus learning areas

  • Arrival of Polynesian people (later known as Māori).
  • Kupe’s story.
  • Iwi tribes) and hāpu (sub-tribes), role of rangatira (chief).
  • Pā (village) sites.

Achievement objectives

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to:

  • Understand how exploration and innovation create opportunities and challenges for people, places, and environments.
  • Understand that events have causes and effects.

Learning Outcomes

This programme will provide students with opportunities to:

  • Recap that the Treaty of Waitangi was between two groups and talk about whether Māori or British arrived in New Zealand first.
  • Hear the story of Kupe discovering Aotearoa.
  • Explain how Māori communities are splitinto iwi (tribes), hāpu (sub-tribes) and whanau (families), and learn about customary Māori living environments (pā).
  • Create a mural of early New Zealand when Māori were the only inhabitants, showing a pā (village)site.

Suggested activities

Journey back over 1000 years ago

Brainstorm with the class what New Zealand would have looked like over 1000 years ago when no humans were living here. (Use a large whiteboard to record this, using pictures rather than words.)

Ask for volunteers to help with the drawing. You are looking for items such as lots of trees, flax, bird life, ocean, rivers etc.

This mural will be modified throughout the unit as more groups of humans and animals are introduced to New Zealand.

When this part of the mural has been completed, ask the class to recap who the Treaty of Waitangi was between. (Māori and British) Out of these two groups who was the first group to arrive? (Māori).

The story of Kupe

Share the story of Kupe coming to and discovering Aotearoa. This is a way to build a foundation for the class on how Māori came to this country.

A great example of this can be found at:

The great migration

Explain that after Kupe returned to Hawaiki, he spread the word about Aotearoa, and over the course of many years several waka (canoes) travelled here and many iwi settled in their new land.

Talk about pā (villages), food gathering, clothing, and chiefs. Introduce the idea that not all iwi (tribes) were friendly towards each other.

Evolving New Zealand mural

Go back to the mural the class drew earlier on the whiteboard and add a pā site to it. Ask the class what natural resources you would need to cut down to make the pā site (rub out some trees and flax).

Supporting information

Some extra information about the Māori World and great images can be found at: