Growing calls for Treaty of Waitangi to be a compulsory part of school curriculum

As the nation counts down to New Zealand's national day, calls are mounting for the Treaty of Waitangi to be a compulsory part of the school curriculum.

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The Prime Minister was asked about the issue at Waitangi today. Source: 1 NEWS

The Post Primary Teachers' Association is calling for the Treaty to be a compulsory part of the curriculum.

Currently it's optional, with schools deciding whether or not to teach it.

"It's written into the Education Act, it's written into the PPTA's constitution. And it just makes absolute sense that our children and their children should be informed about what it is to be a citizen of New Zealand," Jack Boyle, PPTA president, told 1 NEWS.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today stumbled when asked by 1 NEWS what Article One of the Treaty says.

"Oh, Article One? On the spot?" Ms Ardern replied.

"Kawanatanga, sorry, excuse me," she added when helped by ministers standing nearby.

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The PM did answer with a little help from colleagues and says she expects the Treaty to be taught in schools. Source: 1 NEWS

She wasn't the only person at the highest level of Government to struggle with the question, Greens co-leader James Shaw admitting: "I actually don't know the articles".

Ms Ardern said she learnt about the Treaty as part of her education, "and many of our children and young people will and should as part of learning about Aotearoa's history".

"I would certainly have an expectation and a hope that it is learnt across our schools as part of our curriculum," she said. 

Psychiatrist Dr Hinemoa Elder says for many, the Treaty conversation is still tough.

"Clearly if we don't feel comfortable to teach our own history in schools, then there must be some significant difficulty in even talking about it," she said. 

The Ministry of Education says while it doesn't collect data on which schools cover the Treaty of Waitangi, there are several areas of the curriculum which aim to build students' understanding and knowledge of local history.

"How can we move forward and heal, and comprehensively think about a healthy future, when so much of our past and our current daily lives is cloaked in mystery," Dr Elder said.

That's something many hope will change, with growing calls for the Treaty to have pride of place in New Zealand schools.