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Curriculum, pedagogy, environments

Teaching and learning that builds financial capability is a relevant context through which schools can meet the objectives and requirements of the national curriculum.


Vision | Principles | Key competencies | Values | Learning areas

Financial capability is highlighted in The New Zealand Curriculum (p. 39, 2007) as an example of the type of theme that schools could use for effective cross-curricular teaching and learning programmes.

Financial capability and the New Zealand Curriculum
Robyn Scott (Education Manager, Commission for Financial Capability), Pushpa Wood (Director, Financial Education and Research Centre, Massey University), and Terry Shubkin (CEO, Young Enterprise Trust) explain that financial education is a really important part of The New Zealand Curriculum because it affects every single New Zealander. By teaching students about money and making financial decisions we can prepare students to contribute to our society and our economy in a meaningful way. 


The cross-curricular theme of financial capability supports The New Zealand Curriculum’s vision by providing a learning context for students to become:

  • informed decision makers
  • financially literate and numerate
  • enterprising and entrepreneurial
  • contributors to the well-being of New Zealand.

Supporting students to become responsible, confident, and independent managers of money will enable them to live, learn, work, and contribute as active members of their communities.


The New Zealand Curriculum puts students at the centre of teaching and learning. They should experience a curriculum that engages and challenges them with a future-focused and inclusive approach.

Community engagement

Financial capability lends itself to authentic and motivating contexts for learning and provides opportunities for engaging with parents, whānau, and the wider community. 

“A productive partnership starts with the understanding that Māori children and students are connected to whānau and should not be viewed or treated as separate, isolated, or disconnected. Parents and whānau must be involved in conversations about their children and their learning.”

Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2013 – 2017, p. 18

"The number of whānau attending was above our expectations and they were positively supportive of our venture. They made links to Whai Rawa and wanted to investigate starting school banking."

Arowhenua School story


Building financial capability encourages links across learning areas, particularly social sciences, mathematics and statistics, and English. Financial capability is readily developed within authentic contexts for learning. It provides students with life skills as well as opening pathways for further learning.

Future focus

The New Zealand Curriculum encourages students to look at significant future focused issues such as citizenship and enterprise.

Building financial capability contributes to exploring the issue of citizenship through identifying how values, such as community participation and manaakitanga, influence personal financial goals and actions.

Financial capability deals with managing finances to attain personal goals while enterprising activities are aimed at generating personal income. Building financial capability enables students to:

  • understand how to manage money, income, and risk
  • set realistic financial goals
  • make sound economic decisions.

These financial capabilities are necessary for students to be able to engage in enterprising activities.

Key competencies

The New Zealand Curriculum describes the key competencies that young people need to be successful in the 21st century. These are competencies that all people need "to live, learn, work, and contribute as active members of their communities." (New Zealand Curriculum, p. 12)

Providing authentic learning contexts which involve student interaction to build students’ financial capability enables the development of the key competencies in relevant and meaningful ways for all students from all cultures, particularly Māori and Pasifika students.

Find out how key competencies were developed through financial capability learning at Onehunga School.

This table provides suggestions for financial capabilities that support the development of key competencies within a financial context.


Financial capabilities

Managing self
  • Setting goals (setting life goals then developing and carrying out a financial plan to achieve this goal).
  • Delaying gratification by putting off short-term wants to fulfil longer term goals.
  • Planning for the short and long-term, for example budgeting.
  • Applying confidence, persistence, and resilience to inform financial decision making.
  • Taking responsibility for decisions that affect the long-term financial well-being for individuals and groups.
Relating to others
  • Collaborating with others in financial decision making including whānau, family, and extended family contexts.
  • Finding, gathering, and evaluating information from financial experts and elders within the whānau or extended family.
  • Working with people in the commercial world with confidence and assertiveness, for example interacting, questioning, and negotiating with other.
  • Examining the effects of financial decisions on others.
  • Defining what long-term financial security and responsibility means in different cultural contexts (personally and for whānau).
  • Analysing different values and cultural priorities (including those held by Māori and Pasifika).
Participating and contributing
  • Collaborating to carry out a project.
  • Providing feedback on others' decisions.
  • Working with people that have different financial values.
  • Appreciating the importance of social, environmental, and economic sustainability in making financial decisions.
  • Sharing their own resources, for example, time or money, with a marae, fono, charity, community activity, or group.
  • Making financial decisions to help their kura, school, or wider community.
Using language, symbols, and texts
  • Using financial symbols and terminology for own and others' understanding.
  • Calculating and interpreting financial information.
  • Gathering financial information from electronic and other sources.
  • Pursuing personal financial planning through literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Using an inquiry process to solve real life problems through financial planning.
  • Developing long-term thinking including understanding different life stages and their financial implications.
  • Thinking critically to compose relevant financial questions.
  • Identifying and deciding on different financial options.
  • Making sense of financial information and the different motivations, such as values and cultural influences, people may have in their creation.
  • Evaluating financial decisions and their consequences.
  • Investigating how local, national, and global finances can influence individual decisions.


The focus on values in The New Zealand Curriculum requires schools and their communities to know their own values and those of other groups and cultures and to be aware of how they express those values.

Building conceptual understandings in the social sciences: Approaches to social inquiry, p. 15, 2008

Our values affect the financial decisions we make. Knowing, respecting, and valuing who students are, where they come from, and building on the values they bring with them is essential when building financial capability.

When making financial decisions students will develop their ability to:

  • express their own values in relation to money including spending, saving, budgeting, and charity
  • examine with empathy the values of others and appreciate that they have different values which influence their management of money
  • critically analyse values and values-based actions particularly when making financial decisions
  • discuss disagreements that arise from differences in values and negotiate solutions
  • make ethical judgments and decisions with regard to such things as: charity, bankruptcy, savings, loans, and act on them.

Building financial capability is an opportunity to create authentic learning experiences to explore and model the values of fairness, charity, establishing priorities and delayed gratification, and family or cultural obligations. When making their own financial decisions, students need to be aware of the impact these may have on other people including family, friends, and other community members.

This table provides suggestions for ways in which values can be explored and modelled while developing financial capability.


Explored and modeled through...

  • Taking the opportunity to increase reward by increasing effort.
  • Setting financial goals and achieving them.
Innovation, inquiry, and curiosity

Thinking creatively, critically, and reflectively to:

  • set and achieve personal financial goals
  • analyse and solve financial problems
  • understand and use different financial systems
  • explore different ways of sharing resources, for example, whakakoha and the Tokelauan way.
  • Recognising that different people have different values that affect decisions.
  • Recognising that some people need more support than others with financial planning, for example, people with special learning needs.
  • Understanding how family or cultural obligations affect decisions.
  • Demonstrating fairness in financial transactions.
  • Exploring and understanding reasons for Government transfer or payments, for example, family support, Treaty settlements.
  • Recognising the implications of having more or less money.
  • Considering personal contributions to whānau or community goals.
  • Sharing resources, knowledge, and skills.
  • Working collaboratively when making financial decisions and achieving goals.
  • Understanding the need for charity.
  • Identifying the kinds of financial commitments within communities that whānau/families may make.
Ecological sustainability
  • Considering the environment when making financial decisions.
  • Exploring how the concepts of kaitiakitanga and waahi tapu affect financial decision making. 
  • Appreciating the need for honest transactions and records.
  • Making responsible financial decisions, being accountable, and acting ethically.
  • Recognising responsibilities when borrowing and lending.
  • Investigating aspects of credit worthiness when applying for a loan.
  • Showing respect for themselves and others, including those with different cultural beliefs and values.
  • Discussing and reflecting on different financial goals.

Learning areas

Financial capability is a literacy that can be integrated across all curriculum learning areas.

Integrating financial capability into the school curriculum
Robyn Scott (Education Manager, Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income) and Pushpa Wood (Director Financial Education and Research Centre, Massey University) share their views on how and why financial capability should be taught at all levels across the curriculum. They make the point, if young people come out of school with a better understanding of how money works, how to interact with it, how to use it, and how to work with it, they will have a better chance of setting themselves up for life.

NZC_Learning areas_Financial capability.

View a text version of this diagram.

Literacy and numeracy

Literacy and numeracy are foundation skills and understandings that should continue to develop throughout a student's time at school. They are tools for further learning.

Literacy is a prerequisite to developing financial capability. Students need to be able to understand different financial terms, read budgets, and use financial language.

"Our strategy was very much literacy-focused and our school literacy coordinator worked with us to develop resources specific to the unit of work."

Otahuhu College

"Another effective strategy was to incorporate our reading into the unit. We used these sessions to explore values relating to finances and had some excellent discussions with students based around this."

Tawa Intermediate School

Developing financial capability supports the development of numeracy skills. It provides an authentic context for students to develop these skills across all levels of the curriculum, from recognising money and being able to give change, to calculating percentages, to working out levels of interest. The financial capability progressions provide specific curriculum based learning outcomes, which fit within the numeracy strand of the curriculum.

"Students...gained numeracy skills through calculating interest and budgeting. They were able to make connections between what they had learnt in mathematics to another setting."

Onehunga High School

Published on: 20 Nov 2013