22 July, 2020
NZCA’s Heritage Role
Our heritage projects are an important part of our work. There is almost 180 years of Chinese history in Aotearoa New Zealand, and we are the inheritors of our ancestors’ stories. They connect us with our past, telling us who we are, where we come from, and how we belong. Our history is the glue that holds our community together.
Our history is also part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s bigger story. The stories of smaller New Zealand groups have often been excluded from the general stream of history. This is a loss to our country and the depth and authenticity of its history. We are keen to rectify this.
NZCA has commissioned a new website devoted to recording our history. This will be a lifetime project beginning with the first arrivals of Chinese o our shores, though the years to the present, and onwards as we stake our place in New Zealand's history.
Chinese New Zealand History in Schools
Having our history taught in schools is something our community has always wanted. The request was almost at the top of the list in the Government’s 2003 poll-tax apology community consultations.
Although there is a small amount of teaching material on early Chinese gold miners and the poll-tax apology, it’s not likely to be widely used. Teachers need to be confident in the material they teach and most NZ’ers aren’t familiar with our stories. Also, teachers don’t have to teach NZ history.
This situation is about to change.
In 2019 the Government announced it would make New Zealand history compulsory in schools. Their first step is creating a new history curriculum framework.
The New Zealand Chinese Association (NZCA) was invited to participate in the Government’s reference group on the curriculum changes (Te Ohu Matua), which is a great start. The high-level curriculum design will be released for public consultation after June, and the changes will take effect in 2022. However, at the moment, there is no Government budget for new teaching resources that will support the changed curriculum.
What can we do?
If we want our history in schools we will need to work for it. This could mean all of these things:
Informing Govt that NZCA has the mandate for representing our community history
Lobbying Govt to commission teaching resources on Chinese NZ history, and to include us in resources they might be planning.
Partnering with Ministry of Education or other providers to help scope and develop resources.
Independently commissioning resources (either new materials or a framework for using materials already in existence).
NZCA is rapidly developing a strategy and resource options as a response to this opportunity.