Treaty of Waitangi

Page 1 – Introduction

The purpose of this exercise is to get some sense of how much your students know about the Treaty already. From here you will be in a better position to structure the rest of your study. You could try a whole-class discussion where ideas are brainstormed on the board or developed as part of small group discussions. Some basic questions could include:

  • When was the Treaty signed?
  • What was New Zealand like when the Treaty was signed?
  • Who was the Treaty between? Who agreed to it? 
  • What is one thing you know about the Treaty of Waitangi? 
  • What do you want to know?

It is really just a case of establishing what students' understanding and awareness are of what New Zealand was like at the time.

Alternatively you could do a more structured brainstorm, using the following frame-up model.

  • Divide your class into groups of four.
  • Give each group a large sheet of paper, and tell each member of the group that they are allowed one edge of the paper each, with the middle of the paper to be kept blank. Ask them to imagine it looking like a picture frame in which they each have a side of the frame to write on.
  • Now give the class two minutes to record everything they can think of or know about what New Zealand was like before 1840. It could be words, dates, images – there is no right or wrong response, and there is no talking.
  • After two minutes tell them to put down their pens and observe what the other members of their group recorded.
  • If there are words or terms that are common to at least two members of the group, record these in the middle of the paper, i.e., where the picture would be in their frame.
  • Ask one member of the group to present the information from the middle of the page to the rest of the class. Someone can compile a list on the board, and as each group adds information highlight the recurring themes and ideas.
  • Now see if you can tease out as a class a couple of sentences that could be used to summarise what New Zealand was like before 1840. One way of helping focus thinking is to imagine you are telling a student from another part of the world who knows absolutely nothing about New Zealand and its past.
How to cite this page

'What do you already know? - Treaty of Waitangi', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 13-May-2016