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Curriculum project archives

This section contains information, records and links relating to the development and consultation phases of the New Zealand Curriculum Project between 2004 and 2007.

The NZ Curriculum (2007) is the result of one of the most comprehensive consultation processes undertaken by the Ministry of Education with more than 15,000 New Zealanders involved and more than 10,000 submissions received on the draft.

History of curriculum development

Prior to the comprehensive revision of the whole school curriculum in the 1990s, the curriculum was specified through more than a dozen syllabuses and guidelines. These were provided for subjects and in some cases aspects of subjects, such as handwriting. The documents were of different vintages (spanning 1961–1986), covered different year levels (forms 1–4, junior classes to form 2, and so on), and were written in different forms.

Following a public consultation on the curriculum in the mid 1980s (the Curriculum Review), the Department of Education began work on an overall framework for a revised school curriculum. However, the work did not proceed beyond a draft document (published 1988 as National Curriculum Statement: A Discussion Document for Primary and Secondary Schools [Draft]).

The reform of the administration of education in 1989 and the a change of government in 1990 sidelined the project.

Curriculum development resumed in 1991, at first under the Achievement Initiative policy and from 1993 under the umbrella of The New Zealand Curriculum Framework (Ministry of Education, 1993).

The total revision of the New Zealand school curriculum began in 1991 in both English and Māori.

New National Curriculum Statements progressively replaced old syllabuses from 1992. They were published initially in draft form for consultation and trialling, then published in final form, and gazetted for mandatory implementation in years 1–10.

In 1996 the development and implementation of new statements was paused in response to widespread concern across the school sector about the pace and scale of change. New timelines for the curriculum were announced in July 1997 introducing a transition period of at least two years between the publication of a final statement and its mandatory application.

Developing the New Zealand Curriculum draft

Background, records, and references from all aspects of the development of the draft curriculum, published in 2007.

New Zealand Curriculum – draft 2006-2007

PDF icon. Curriculum framework draft document (PDF, 2 MB)

Vision statement image.

If you cannot view or read this diagram, select this text version »

Between 2004 and 2007 more than 15,000 students, teachers, principals, advisers, and academics contributed to developing the draft New Zealand curriculum, building on the recommendations from the New Zealand Curriculum Stocktake Report, published in April 2003.

People contributed by participating in working groups, providing input online, or taking part in focus groups. The draft revision of the curriculum was enriched by the knowledge, experience, and different perspectives of all those involved. The participatory process also led to the creation or growth of professional communities and the forging of new connections between groups.


A Vision image.

If you cannot view or read this diagram, select this text version »

Principles and values


Principles are beliefs that guide practice. The broad principles suggested in the draft New Zealand curriculum guide schools as they design their own curricula.

Read about the principles and values on pages 9–10:


All schools teach values, and these are seen in the way teachers and students in a school think and act.

The values outlined in the 1993 New Zealand Curriculum Framework were revised to provide a clearer focus for schools and teachers. The curriculum promotes broad values important to all New Zealanders.

Developing a statement for values in the draft New Zealand curriculum

A team from Waikato University worked with national and regional consultation groups during 2004–5. The consultation meetings identified key shared community values.

A literature review, Values in the New Zealand Curriculum identified and reported on:

  • key trends in the way values are addressed in recent international curricula
  • key trends in the way values are addressed in learning areas
  • key issues surrounding the inclusion of Māori values in the curriculum
  • key issues in addressing Pasifika, Asian, and other cultural and ethnic values
  • recent developments in values in the curriculum in New Zealand
  • recent research on values in education internationally.

Key competencies

The draft New Zealand curriculum identified five key competencies for learning and life. These are:

  • managing self
  • relating to others
  • participating and contributing
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols, and text.

Read about the key competencies on pages 11–12:

Background to the development of key competencies

The Curriculum Stocktake Report (2002) recommended that five sets of skills and attitudes replace the essential skills. As a result of consultation, feedback about the proposed skills and attitudes, publication of a critique of key competencies by the OECD, and ongoing Ministry of Education work around key competencies, the five draft key competencies were proposed.

newsletter (248 kB) outlining the key competencies was sent to all schools in March 2005. It invited schools to engage in discussions and contribute to the development of key competencies. Responses overwhelmingly supported the proposed changes.

The writing group was set up within the Curriculum Marautanga Project to prepare the key competencies section of the draft. They drafted a revised statement, taking into account the original work of the OECD DeSeCo project, along with position papers and comments provided from various interest groups, and feedback from the school consultation. An advisory group consisting of cross-curricular and cross-sector representatives met with the writers to provide feedback.

Focus groups of teachers and parents provided feedback on the draft statement. A report (August 2005) on qualitative research, exploring teachers' and parents' perceptions and understanding of the draft statement of key competencies in the New Zealand curriculum, included the following conclusions.

  • Teachers and parents understand the concept of key competencies to be an underpinning philosophy for day-to-day learning, and for the development of overarching school charters and culture.
  • The ideas and concepts behind the key competencies statement are supported as values that they can recognise and identify with as having value and importance.
  • Teachers and parents believe that key competencies are already implemented into everyday teaching and learning, and teachers can provide examples of this implementation. In this regard, the draft statement is perceived as a 'restating' and 'refocusing' of current practice, rather than as a new initiative.
  • Parent and community involvement needs to be enhanced and valued. For example, people perceive the competencies of 'belonging', 'relating to others', and 'managing self' as joint responsibilities of parents, schools, and communities.
  • The most effective communication with parents will be through school newsletters and/or parent evenings. These can be used to explain what key competencies are, why their importance is being highlighted, and what they mean for teaching and learning.
  • Teachers' engagement with the concept and (further) implementation of key competencies will be led by school management, principals, and school heads of department.

Developing the learning areas

The New Zealand Curriculum specifies eight learning areas: English, the arts, health and physical education, learning languages, mathematics and statistics, science, social sciences, and technology.

The learning associated with each area is part of a broad, general education and lays a foundation for later specialisation. Like the key competencies, this learning is both end and means: valuable in itself and valuable for the pathways it opens to other learning.


In the arts, students discover how to use their senses, imagination, thinking, and feelings as the stimulus for creative action and response.

The arts learning area comprises the four separate disciplines of dance, drama, music, and the visual arts, each with its own distinct body of knowledge and practice.

Read the arts curriculum learning area introduction on page 14:

The arts community reported satisfaction with the structure and content of the current curriculum. Little significant change was considered. The direction set in the draft curriculum continued, with minor changes to make things clearer and to ensure the continued relevance of the arts in our students' lives. The four arts disciplines and their four strands are already firmly embedded in school programmes. The "understanding the arts in context" strand was strengthened to reflect the growing importance of this area of teaching and learning.

There was a small reduction in the number of achievement objectives. Minor adjustments aimed to help teachers and students to identify the level at which they are working, and clarify the learning progressions.


In English, students study, use, and enjoy language and literature, communicated orally, visually, or in writing.

The achievement objectives were combined to make them clearer and easier for teachers to use. The new curriculum structure reflected all the thinking that happened during the development of previous projects such as asTTLe and the curriculum exemplars.

The achievement objectives were combined into two interrelated strands covering:

  • speaking, writing, and presenting – where learners develop their ability to use the English language appropriately and creatively for a range of purposes and within a range of contexts
  • listening, reading, and viewing – where learners develop skills in understanding and responding to a rich variety of texts in English, including heritage and popular texts, fiction and non-fiction texts. 
English strand diagram.

If you cannot view or read this diagram, open the text version.

Each strand has four aspects:

  • purposes and audiences
  • ideas
  • language features
  • structures and text types.

The oral, visual, and written strands of the curriculum were absorbed into the proposed new strands.

Read the English curriculum learning area introduction on page 15:

Health and PE

In health and physical education, students learn how to support their own well-being and that of others and society, exploring these in health related and movement contexts.

Feedback from the education community suggested that the structure of the curriculum was appropriate and generally worked well. As a result, significant change was not recommended. The health and physical education curriculum was refined to make it easier to use and ensure its continued relevance. These refinements included rewording some achievement objectives and updating the related examples. Other changes included renaming the learning area (previously "health and physical well-being") to "health and physical education" to match the title of the curriculum.

Read the health and physical education curriculum learning area introduction on pages 16–17:

Learning languages

In learning languages, students learn how to communicate in an additional language, and discover how language and culture shape our personal, group, and national identities.

Learning languages was a new learning area introduced as the result of a recommendation in the Curriculum Stocktake Report. It addresses international criticism about the place of second language learning within the New Zealand curriculum.

The introduction of learning languages strengthens cross-cultural understandings, recognising that people everywhere are becoming more mobile and connected.

Learning languages provides a generic, overarching curriculum for all languages so that the outcomes achieved are consistent across the different languages.

All schools catering for students in years 7–10 were required to offer a language programme by 2008. This did not apply to Māori-immersion settings, where students also learn English.

While the curriculum is based around certain languages – te reo Māori, New Zealand Sign Language, Pacific languages (Sāmoan, Cook Islands Māori, Niue, Tongan, Tokelauan), Japanese, Chinese, Korean, French, German, Spanish, and Latin – schools may also choose to offer other languages, for example, a language used by their community.

Read the learning languages curriculum learning area introduction on page 18:

Related content

Background reading

Learning languages archive

Writers reflect on developing the curriculum – Members of the learning languages writing group reflect on their experiences

Mathematics and statistics

In mathematics and statistics, students explore relationships in quantities, space, and data, and learn to express these relationships in ways that help them to make sense of the world around them.

Mathematics is the exploration and use of patterns and relationships in quantities, space, and time; and statistics is the exploration and use of patterns and relationships in data. They are connected, yet different, ways of thinking and solving problems. It was proposed that the mathematics curriculum statement be renamed "mathematics and statistics", emphasising the difference between statistical thinking and mathematical thinking. In keeping with the recommendations of the Curriculum Stocktake Report, it was recommended that the complexity of the curriculum be reduced along with the number of strands from six to three for levels 1–6. The proposed strands were: number and algebraic thinking, geometry and measurement, and statistics. The mathematical processes strand was removed and incorporated into the achievement objectives so that it applied across all three strands of the curriculum. It was proposed that levels 7–8 have only two strands: "statistics" and "mathematics". Mathematics included co-ordinate geometry, trigonometry, algebra, and calculus.

Read the mathematics and statistics curriculum learning area introduction on page 19:


In science, students generate and test ideas, observe, investigate, and model in order to develop scientific knowledge, understanding, and explanations.

Science is about investigating, understanding, and explaining the natural world. The planned curriculum for science still consists of helping learners develop sound scientific understandings of the living world, the material world, the physical world, and planet Earth and beyond. Proposed changes were to better reflect the part people play as citizens in a world shaped by science.

The main change proposed was to combine the two existing integrating strands into one, tentatively named "developing scientific competencies". The new strand applies right across the science curriculum. Students will learn about the nature of science, types of scientific investigation, and how to make informed decisions using their knowledge of science.

While these aims existed within the previous curriculum, they have been developed further and it was proposed that they become integral to the way in which science is taught.

Read the science curriculum learning area introduction on pages 20–21:

Social sciences

In the social sciences, students explore how societies work, and how they can participate and take action as informed and responsible citizens.

Integrating the existing strands at levels 1–5, and that levels 6–8 branch out into social studies, history, geography, and economics was proposed.

In the social sciences, learning occurs when the achievement objectives are integrated with the social inquiry process. Integrating the "inquiry", "values exploration", and "social decision making" processes into a single "social inquiry" process strand was recommended.

The proposed four conceptual strands were "identity, culture and organisation", "place and environment", "continuity and change", and "the economic world".

The number of achievement objectives were reduced as there would not be separate objectives for each of these conceptual strands. The achievement objectives are broad outcomes, allowing schools to contextualise learning.

Essential learning about Aotearoa New Zealand was incorporated into the achievement objectives, and should be easier to include in teaching and learning programmes.

Read the social sciences curriculum  learning area introduction on page 22:


In technology, students explore how people intervene in the world by developing products, systems, and environments to expand their possibilities.

A key finding from 10 years of classroom practice and research was the importance of students carrying out technological practice. To support this and to achieve the aim of technology education, which is to develop students' technological literacy, it was proposed that the three strands be redefined as: "nature of technology", "technological knowledge" and "technological practice".

Combining aspects of the existing strands into a single strand called "technological practice" aimed to give students a broader understanding of technology. It was suggested that parts of the existing strands be further developed into two new strands: "technological knowledge" and "nature of technology".

Draft achievement objectives for the 'technological knowledge' and 'nature of technology' strands were developed following research. We published the achievement objectives for these strands separately.

It was also suggested that the current requirement for schools to deliver a specified number of technological areas be replaced with the expectation that students experience a broad range of technology-related contexts. This would give schools the flexibility to develop innovative programmes that reflect their unique communities.

Recently released technology curriculum background papers:

Previous curriculum statements – Read the curriculum statements developed in the 1990s.

Published on: 29 Apr 2021