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Ministers reject idea of making Treaty of Waitangi curriculum compulsory in NZ schools

Ministers have rejected the idea of making the Treaty of Waitangi a compulsory subject in New Zealand schools, despite agreeing it is an important topic to learn.

The Post Primary Teachers' Association is calling for the compulsory change. Currently the topic is optional, with schools deciding whether or not to teach it.

Associate Minister of Education and Minister of Crown Māori Relations Kelvin Davis quashed the idea the Government might step in with such a mandate, RNZ reported.

"In terms of the teaching of Te Tiriti in schools, remember that schools are self-governing, self-managing," he said. "It's inappropriate for governments to come along and dictate specifics of what's taught in schools."

While at Waitangi today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said children should learn about the Treaty of Waitangi - despite her own blunder yesterday as she stumbled on a question quizzing her about what the articles of the Treaty of Waitangi actually say.

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

She told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning that she did know the documents principles well, but was put on the spot when asked yesterday.

"I was one of the students that learnt it in schools," she said. "Of course the principles of the the treaty are very clear to me, but yeah, put on the spot I took a moment or two.

Speaking to RNZ, she added: "I would certainly have an expectation and a hope that it is learnt across our schools. This is our country, it is part of our history, it is our founding document as a nation, our students should be learning about it."

However, New Zealand First MP Shane Jones said it is up to schools to decide what they teach. He does expect, he told RNZ, that most if not all already have it in the curriculum.

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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

"The reality is that I don't know of a single school that does not offer - as a part of social studies or New Zealand history - the history and the historical role that the treaty has played in the evolution of New Zealand," Mr Jones said.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins told the media outlet that schools need more support to strengthen the teaching of New Zealand history, and the Education Ministry is working on several projects to address that.

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The Prime Minister told TVNZ1’s Breakfast she knows the document well, but was "put on the spot". Source: Breakfast