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Exploring te Tiriti o Waitangi

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a founding document of Aotearoa and had a significant impact. This activity explores how we can contribute to its ongoing and positive impact for future generations, by upholding it.

Firstly, the evidence...

You may wonder why a hauora initiative like Manahau is wading in on the importance of understanding Tiriti o Waitangi? Well, it all comes down to what the evidence tells us. Our history in Aotearoa and our connection to culture is a determinant of hauora. Prof. Sandro Galea from Boston Univsersty wrote:  “The effect that historical factors like war, economics, intellectual movements, and mass migration can have on the long-term health of populations argues for a consideration of the past itself as a determinant of health.” 

This seems particularly evident for both Māori and Pākehā due to different understandings of Tiriti o Waitangi and the ongoing impacts, such as the loss of whenua, te reo and culture, which are all bound strongly to a sense of identity and place in the world.  

Why this activity?

It allows tamariki to reflect on the generations that have gone before us and look to the future that they hope to be a part of. It provides a space for them to see themselves in this journey and the important role that they play in shaping Aotearoa now and into the future.

What to do

With older tamariki:

  • After general kōrero about Tiriti o Waitangi, give each ākonga the Exploring te Tiriti o Waitangi worksheet.

  • Remind them that we are 7 generations on from the signing of te Tiriti. There’s been some really sad outcomes, which we’re still looking for ways to amend while knowing that we can’t fix things completely. But it’s great to be inspired by what we can do to improve the future too.

  • Turn to the worksheet and explain that the biggest whare is them in 2024, the next is the next generation, people who are 20 years younger than them, the next 40 years younger and the smallest whare is the generation 140 years in the future.

  • Start with the biggest whare, this is your tamariki today. 

    • Kōrero about the actions they can take as a class to ensure we’re upholding the values of Te Tiriti o Waitangi?

    • These might include:

      • Making te Reo more part of the day​

      • Saying karakia before kai

      • Learning our pepeha

      • Getting to know our local history and significant places

  • Then kōrero about what differences this would make for a generation younger in 2044!

If tamariki really enjoy this, they might do more than one generation!


With younger tamariki:

  • We know you’ll pitch te Tiriti o Waitangi just right for these tamariki. 

  • Be guided by our thinking for older tamariki, but perhaps you can reflect on this in a more collaborative way.

  • They might write some kupu or draw pictures to depict this, but this is a big ongoing learning journey!

Kōrero and reflect

The aim is for tamariki to begin to understand that they are part of something much bigger than just themselves.

Last week we were utterly inspired by Angeline McDonald when she said that no ākonga walks into a classroom as an individual, they step into a learning space surrounded by their whakapapa, regardless of if they connect with this or not. She asked how we might kōrero with these tamariki if they had all those they connect with standing alongside them - a big pātai to consider. 


There are obvious links here to our history and Te Tiriti. 

Ka mua, ka muri - walking backwards into the future. 

Kaiako card

To make things easier, refer to or print this kaiako card.

Te Tiriti articles

This helped with our understanding and reference to Te Tiriti o Waitangi - 

Article One - Kawanatanga

  • This outlines the Crown’s  responsibilities and obligations. Kāwanatanga allows for the Government to  govern. And as part of this the Government agrees to protect and care for the oranga of Māori as well as all other citizens.

Article Two - Tino Rangatiratanga

  • This means Māori have the right of  tino rangatiratanga (control, authority and responsibility) over anything pertaining to Māori, including health. Article Two says Māori have control of their resources and their taonga.

Article Three - Ōritetanga

  • Ōritetanga means equity for Māori in Aotearoa and that the Crown must protect Māori from any disparity. 

Article Four 

  • There is also a fourth article of Te Tiriti o Waitangi that is quite often forgotten. This article ensures that both Māori and non-Māori have the freedom to practise their religion, faith and customs. International law states that oral agreements recorded at the time are also included. The fourth article was included at the request of Bishop Pompallier stating "E mea ana te Kāwana ko ngā whakapono katoa o Ingarani, o ngā Weteriana, o Rōma, me te ritenga Māori hoki e tiakina ngātahitia e ia". The Governor says that the several faiths of England, of the Wesleyans, of Rome and also of Māori custom shall alike be protected by him. 

Whānau engagement

You might like to share this activity with home for whānau to kōrero about and perhaps even allow them to consider their own whakapapa and who they bring with them! 

And to add to this...

The good old Christchurch Libraries never fail with their interesting and cold content. 


Our buddies at Core Education also have some great free resources


The TKI website's local curriculum guide is ace too. 


The Ministry of Education has provided really helpful ‘getting started’ with the curriculum guidance. 


Hana O’Regan and Leah Te Whata, also from Core Education have recorded this great podcast about how we keep te Tiriti alive every day. 


And then we’ve also been enjoying the Radio NZ podcast and video series The Aotearoa Histories Show. Episode 4 outlines the signing of te Tiriti, but watch that it does use the term ‘prostitution’ when describing the goings on at Kororāreka (Russell) at the time, which you might get some questions about! We thought it might make useful listening when tamariki are completing the Exploring Waitangi Day worksheet, or perhaps some mindful colouring. But just have a wee listen first to make sure you’re happy with all the content!

Lastly, learning about our culture and history can be so fun while also engaging some fabulous kōrero, an awesome activity to continue this learning is Embracing Te Reo Māori with Te Whare Tapa Whā - all about expanding our understanding of te reo

Curriculum links

Aotearoa New Zealand Histories (ANZH)​

  • Know context:

    • Tino rangatiratanga me te kāwanatanga Government and organisation  This context focuses on the history of authority and control, and the contests over them. At the heart of these contests are the authorities guaranteed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi | The Treaty of Waitangi. This context also considers the history of the relationships between government agencies and the people who lived here and in the Pacific.

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