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First Encounters


We are preparing to close this site soon as this content has now moved to Tāhūrangi.

Tāhūrangi is the new online curriculum hub for Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education.


The Tuia Mātauranga themes are designed to be taught separately and are broad enough to be taught at any time. They support robust exploration of New Zealand's histories in local contexts and have value beyond the commemorations. Within this theme First Encounters you will find:

Learning map |  Conceptual understandings |  Inquiry questions |  Teaching and learning guide |  Video


Learning map

Download a PDF version: 

First Encounters learning map.pdf  865 kB


Conceptual understandings

Download a PDF version:

First Encounters conceptual understandings.pdf  318 kB

Inquiry questions

  • What might have happened if Captain Cook had acted differently when he first met Māori?
  • What might have happened if the first encounter with Māori had ended badly for Captain Cook?
  • What actions could help heal the pain of Captain Cook’s first encounters with Māori?
  • How were different groups’ human rights impacted by the first encounters between Pākehā and Māori?
  • What are some of the feelings iwi who encountered Cook might have about the arrival of Pākehā to Aotearoa New Zealand? Why?
  • How has the pāmamae (grief) of these encounters impacted on people today? 
  • What are some of the different feelings iwi who didn’t encounter Cook might have about the arrival of Pākehā to Aotearoa New Zealand? Why?
  • Who were the groups who had an interest in the first encounters between Māori and Pākehā?
  • If the story of the first encounters was being told by ____ group, what parts might they miss out? What parts might they emphasise? What consequences might this have? 
  • What values influenced the actions of the different groups who had an interest in the first encounters?
  • What were the motivations of different groups coming Aotearoa New Zealand? How did this influence their actions?
  • How could we right some of the wrongs that occurred in the first encounters?
  • What do the first encounters teach us about how to respond to encounters with other groups?

Download a PDF version: 

Years 1-10 inquiry questions.pdf  122 kB

Teaching and Learning Guide

Download the First Encounters Teaching and Learning Guide:

Tuia Mātauranga – First Encounters Teaching and Learning Guide.pdf  1 MB


The first encounters between Māori and Pākehā have had long-lasting consequences. They caused a range of emotions including pāmamae, (grief and pain) and are talked about differently by different groups.

This First Encounters video was recorded with students in year 3, year 6 and year 8. The material is not separated by age or stage – teachers are able to use it according to student interest and ability, and relevance to local communities

In this video, students discuss the following inquiry questions:

  • What might have happened when Cook first landed? What are the consequences of this?

Note:  You may prefer to tell the students the inquiry questions first, allowing them to formulate their own thoughts, before exposing them to the thoughts of others. Or, you may find that watching the video first prompts more discussion.

These videos are very useful for discussions of perspective, bias and values. Ask students to explore:

  • Whose story is this?
  • Who or what is the source of the information we know?
  • Who decides which stories are important to tell?
  • Why might different people at the same event tell a different story?
  • Is there one right story? Is it commonly told and understood?
  • Do these events affect your lives and community today?
  • What can we learn from history?

This video may prompt students to talk to their whānau, and the wider school community about the events portrayed, and the history they know. Students could then tell the historical stories of their own community in animation like this.

Text on screen

Recently, we asked a group of students from Aotearoa to talk about Tuia First Encounters. These thoughts and perspectives are their own. Use this video to prompt discussion and explore your own perspectives and values.

What might have happened when Cook first landed?


Students’ voices

He was the first Pākehā to come to New Zealand.

Captain Cook sailed and I think he reached New Zealand and was the first to land on the land.


Text on screen

Who was negatively affected by Cook’s voyages?

What are the consequences of this?


Students’ voices

Captain Cook killed a bunch of people to say that he was powerful and they could have made great discoveries that led to this day.

If I could go back in time I would just go up to him, in his boat, push it back. Keep pushing it through the water and then still go back to the present and see how things have gone. And see if that made things better, and stuff like that.

I think the Māori might have felt quite, like, intimidated, like wondering why he's just come and turned up, without any notice. But then they also might be willing to negotiate as well.

I think they were, like, interested, what was out there like... What is this person? He doesn't look like us. Why is he so pale? Why has he got this different stuff? Why has he got these different clothes?


Text on screen

You have heard what these learners think. How would you answer this question? Pause this video to explore your perspectives.

How could we right some of the wrongs that occurred in the first encounters?

For instance, would you celebrate by putting Cook on our money?


Students’ voices

I wouldn't put Captain Cook on money because he killed some of the Māori people and Māori is a part of our culture. I don't think it's right to do that.

I wouldn't put Captain Cook on our money because he doesn't understand Māori so he thought that he could just tell them what to do and barge in and order them, get his men to kill them, and stuff like that, to say he’s a powerful man.

And that it is actually wrong to just barge in and say okay, this is mine, and if you don't think I'm powerful enough then I'll just kill some people. 


End titles

Download a PDF version:

Tuia Mātauranga – First Encounters.pdf  73 kB

Explore other Tuia themes

  • Voyaging – the 1000 years of Pacific voyaging and celestial navigation, and the meeting of two great voyaging traditions.
  • New Zealand History – the significant people, places, and events that shaped the community, and those of significance to all New Zealanders.
  • Legacy of Learning – maintaining and building strong respectful relationships, celebrating the rich heritage of all of the people that have chosen to live here, and strengthening our relationship with the environment.