Pupils visit historic sites
Matamata Christian School students will be reliving New Zealand history next week with a trip to Russell to re-enact the Treaty of Waitangi.
The group of 25 students are going for four days, as part of Matamata Christian School’s programme to expose children to New Zealand history at an earlier age than most.
Principal Alistair Paterson said he was excited that his class of year seven and eight students got to delve into history early in their schooling after studies showed it to be a weak subject among New Zealand students.
He said the trip would help his class get excited about the subject, as they would witness it first hand.
So far the children have studied the Treaty of Waitangi in class this year and already excel in knowledge of the events.
Russell and in particular Waitangi is where the children will learn about Maori tribes, legends and traditions, some of the first settlers to New Zealand and of course the Treaty itself.
They will walk in the footsteps of Hone Heke, William Hobson and Henry Williams, one of the first missionaries.
Part of the trip includes a reenactment of the debates which occurred between Maori and Pakeha before the Treaty was signed. Here the children are given a script to read out with a full 19th-century English text, which they have to bring back to life.
Student Kelsey Wellington is particularly looking forward to going to James Busby’s house which is the most visited historic building in the country.
Fellow student Thomas Anderton wants to see Pompallier House which was a Catholic missionary station which printed bibles.
Elizabeth Martin is more fascinated with the Maori wars and wants to see the bullet holes in New Zealand’s oldest church in Paihia.
The School’s Board of Trustees is supporting the school’s programme which is now in its second year.
It is part of an ongoing programme called Kid on the Rock which reflects the child and their foundation, which helps children learn about the world around them.
Their junior class looks at local Matamata history and years five and six look at Waikato history, followed by years seven and eight who look at New Zealand history. The programme has been very successful in helping children embrace their heritage. ‘‘I hope it continues,’’ said Mr Paterson.
Revisiting history: Matamata Christian School year seven and eight students from left Thomas Anderton, 11, Kelsey Wellington, 11, and Elizabeth Martin, 11, are ready to make history come to life in Russell.