TODAY |

Auckland school embraces its past with first New Zealand history day

New Zealand's history is about to become part of the school curriculum, but one small kura on the outskirts of Auckland is well ahead of the pack already. 

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The small kura responded to a challenge by the local iwi. Source: 1 NEWS

Mercer School invited guests to help them celebrate their first New Zealand history day after a tribal challenge pushed the staff to do better.  

"Waikato Tainui was invited to bless our school and I got challenged with the question, 'Do you know about the land you're standing on?' and I said no," principal Paula Faitala said. 

"And as a principal, I didn't think that was OK."   

They had been doing their research since then. Students and teachers learned that Mercer was named for a captain killed during the Waikato invasion in 1863. 

They found a book dating to the 1950s when students were writing about it.  

"Their writing is a lot more formal and it's a lot different to our learning," student Lincoln Whiddett said.

"It's just been sitting there for 100 years, it's just gone ripped and faded."

The school grounds had an interesting tale or two to tell as well. 

One building was the old Mercer jailhouse; it was moved there in the 1970s, now plans are afoot to restore it.

Under the changing curriculum, schools must start teaching New Zealand history by 2022, and local stories can be part of that.

"The histories that make up a local curriculum should be meaningful to children that go to that school, and they should reflect the events and stories that sit within that school," the Ministry of Education's Pauline Cleaver said.