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Teaching resources and information about our constitution

Overview resources

  • Legal studies curriculum guides for senior secondary
    • Under the legal studies programme students explore the role of law in society and New Zealand’s laws and legal system. Law and the systems that support it are dynamic: they impact on and are influenced by the cultural, moral, ethical, environmental, political, social, and economic values of the day.
    • To be informed citizens, young people need an understanding of the concepts, principles, and processes that provide the foundations for our legal system and of the issues that confront it. Legal studies offer students the opportunity to gain such understanding in a New Zealand and a global context.
    • In legal studies, students explore major issues, such as citizenship, cultural diversity, our country’s bicultural foundation, sustainability and the environment, and work and enterprise.
  • Citizens Advice Bureaux
    Information pages on New Zealand Government processes, an introduction to specific laws, legal services, Treaty of Waitangi, citizenship and immigration, courts, rights of the individual, law enforcement.
  • YouthLaw
    YouthLaw offers nationwide free education sessions to groups of children and young people or those working with them. YouthLaw also offers schools assistance with curriculum implementation in the following areas:
    • human rights elements of the New Zealand Curriculum
    • legal and citizenship elements of the New Zealand Curriculum.

Head of state

Government House provides educational tours for school students, where they learn about the constitutional, civic and community roles of the Head of State. Classes often combine the tour with a trip to Parliament and the Constitution Room at Archives.


Role and functions of Parliament

The Parliamentary Service’s strategy includes a commitment to ensuring Parliament is accessible to members of the public (Statement of Intent 2013-2016). As part of this goal the Service produces educational resources and runs educational tours of Parliament. The resources are linked to the curriculum to better support teachers to educate their students on Parliament and democracy in New Zealand. 

  • How Parliament works - find out about our system of government, what Parliament does, how we choose our members of Parliament, and how laws are made. Discover the important jobs people do in Parliament and what special rules, privileges and powers apply.
  • Interactive timeline - An easy-to-use interactive timeline that explores 100 dates from the history of our Parliament through short text and visual images. Suitable for classroom use with links provided to related websites.
  • Explore parliament resources - Explore Parliament resource materials focus on the work of Parliament as well as providing teacher support material and links to the New Zealand curriculum. Two sets are available – a primary set (Years 5-8) and a secondary set (Years 9-10).  Each set contains ten laminated cards and a teacher’s guide.
  • Tō Tātou Whare resources - To Tātou Whare themed resource material is designed to support students learning in te Reo Māori. A set of six laminated cards provides links to the work of parliament with an emphasis on authentic experiences with particular relevance to Māori students.
  • Youth Parliament - Every three to four years the Ministry of Youth Development coordinates New Zealand’s Youth Parliament.  Young people are selected by members of Parliament to take part in debates in the Chamber and hold youth select committee meetings.

Electoral system

One of the Electoral Commission’s statutory functions is to ‘promote public awareness of electoral matters by means of the conduct of education and information programmes or by other means’ (section 5(c) Electoral Act 1993).  The Commission focuses on increasing voter participation.

  • Your voice, your choice - learning units for schools and communities engage people in how they can have a say on the decisions that affect their lives.

Executive (Ministers and Government departments)

  • The Cabinet manual
    An authoritative guide to central government decision making for Ministers, their offices, and those working within government. It is also a primary source of information on New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements, as seen through the lens of the executive branch of government. The Cabinet Manual guides Cabinet’s procedure, and is endorsed at the first Cabinet meeting of a new government, to provide for the orderly re-commencement of the business of government.

Judiciary (courts)

Courts have a wide variety of functions. They include enforcing the criminal law, resolving civil disputes amongst citizens, upholding the rights of the individual, ensuring that government agencies stay within the law, and explaining the law.

Local government

  • Youth Councils - Local Government
    More than 40 Youth Councils are run throughout New Zealand through Local Government New Zealand. They include youth in planning and decision making through youth forums.

The Treaty of Waitangi, Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Human rights

  • Ministry of Justice: Human rights
    Information and documents relating to domestic and international human rights instruments and procedures that are important for ensuring respect for human rights in New Zealand.
  • Rights Education Project
    The REP (the Rights Education Project) aims to equip young people in Wellington with knowledge and about their legal rights & responsibilities. The REP is a project of Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley and the Community Justice Project (Victoria University law students), supervised by education staff at Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley. Topics presented are employment, tenancy, consumer law, police, family law, and sex, health and the law. 

Identity: Cultures, history and demographics


  • Taxation and citizenship
    Teaching units for levels 4 and 5, with supporting resources. Covers topics such as “What is tax for?”, “How do decisions about spending tax get made in our community?” and “What’s fair?”

Financial literacy

  • Financial education
    Teaching resources for the social studies curriculum about taking part in economic communities.

Active participation

  • UN Youth New Zealand
    With the values of the United Nations as an example, UN Youth seeks to engage and equip young New Zealanders as global citizens who can meet the challenges of the 21st century. 
  • Archives New Zealand
    The Constitution Room at Archives New Zealand contains houses some of our nation’s most important documents, including the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, the Declaration of Independence and the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition.


  • Enviroschools Foundation
    A not-for-profit trust that supports children and young people to be active citizens, contributing to ecological regeneration and the creation of healthy, resilient and sustainable communities. 

Resources in other jurisdictions


The Australian Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations provides Civics and Citizenship resources for schools across the country.

Civics and citizenship education promotes students’ participation in Australia’s democracy by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, values and dispositions of active and informed citizenship. It entails knowledge and understanding of Australia’s democratic heritage and traditions, its political and legal institutions and the shared values of freedom, tolerance, respect, responsibility and inclusion.

United Kingdom

In 2002, compulsory lessons on citizenship were introduced into secondary schools in England following the recommendations of an advisory group chaired by Bernard Crick:

The current national curriculum programmes of study for citizenship at key stages 3 and 4 have been disapplied with effect from 1 September 2013 and are no longer statutory. This means that schools are free to develop their own curricula for citizenship that best meet the needs of their pupils, in preparation for the introduction of the new national curriculum from September 2014.  Citizenship remains a compulsory national curriculum subject at key stages 3 and 4. New statutory programmes of study will be introduced from September 2014.

Teaching resources

  • Department for Education (UK): Citizenship
    The Department for Education is currently (as at August 2013) consulting on a new national curriculum, which includes a citizenship section, aiming to ensure pupils:
    • acquire a sound knowledge and understanding of how the United Kingdom is governed, its political system and how citizens participate actively in its democratic systems of government
    • develop a sound knowledge and understanding of the role of law and the justice system in our society and how laws are shaped and enforced
    • develop an interest in, and commitment to, volunteering that they will take with them into adulthood
    • are equipped with the financial skills to enable them to manage their money on a day to day basis, and plan for future financial needs.

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Published on: 13 Oct 2013