GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – History is with us everyday.


Really good to hear the push to ensure New Zealand history is taught in the country’s schools in a coherent manner has paid off, with the prime minister announcing changes to the curriculum yesterday.

We so often take events of the past for granted and forget that much of what we experience today reflects what happened yesterday.

The only note of caution I would mention is for the curriculum developers to remember that while it is very important that our children are taught the history of our island nation (because it is integral to the formation of identity) it is also the case that the current generation and future generations are (and will be) connected to the world as never before.

So it is important that important world events of the past form part of the study programme for the young students of our multi-cultural nation.

If you don’t know what Neoliberalism is and where it came from overseas, you have no idea that we once had a very differenty economic system that was dramatically changed in 1984 and consequences we live with as a result .
Magna Carta and Mao Tse-Tung, for example, may also be distant names from the past but they too, in a very real sense , are part of our everyday life in the rule of law, and understanding our largest trading partner.

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Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. We were taught world history at college in the early 70s I remember learning about the Boer war i am waiting for all the red necks to come out and refuse for their children to learn the history of NZ even though we had world history and Shakespeare shoved down our throats. I saw many nasty and very racist hurtful comments about our Maori people when our health statistics were presented many pakeha said ‘it is up to the individual’ many didn’t care that our people don’t get the same level of care this was blamed on the individual the common theme were Maori drink too much, smoke too much pot etc fucking shocking this type of attitude and us having to put up with this in 2019. And now we have a councillor from Wellington Simon Wolfe saying our language should only be used when it is appropriate this is sad and shows how some pakeha use our language and culture when it suits them and when it doesn’t they toss it aside. Air Nz is but one example of this wanting to trademark Kia ora.

    • First Luxton came for Whenuapai, and I did not care, for I thought it was just more corporate posturing.
      Then he came for ‘kia ora’, and then I did care, for I thought appropriating an indigenous language is tantamount to exploitative imperialism and slave trading.
      Finally he came for the rest and I understood his sickness.

  2. ” If you don’t know what Neoliberalism is and where it came from overseas, you have no idea that we once had a very different economic system that was dramatically changed in 1984 and consequences we live with as a result ”

    All of our history good and bad should be taught and we have a done a huge disservice to previous students by not having as an important part of the curriculum.

    It forms part of what it means to understanding nationhood and where we fit into that.

    Our history with the Maori people and the injustices suffered including the formation of the treaty need to be examined but that is only part of our recent history.

    As Bryan pointed out this country was a very different one too pre 1984 and these changes since need to be given closer scrutiny.

    Other topics must include too name a few
    The springbok tour
    Feminisim and women’s right too vote
    Governments and their impact over the last 170 years.
    The history of our electoral systems.
    1951 waterfront strike
    The union movement
    Erebus and other major events
    The commonwealth and our place in it from a historical standpoint
    The last two major wars and the sacrifice of people here and abroad.
    Sporting achievements aside from just rugby !!!
    The anti nuclear change and what drove it including the French and nuclear testing in the pacific.

  3. NZ history also needs to be taught in the context of world history. Colonisation was taking place elsewhere for 300+ years before Cook planted the Union Jack in Aotearoa.

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