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The article provides a historical perspective on the debate over a New Zealand senior history curriculum that emerged in the 1980s and has remained largely intact over the subsequent 20 years. While the contested nature of history education is an international phenomenon, New Zealand stands apart: there school history is largely Eurocentric in orientation, narrowly topic-based, and few students engage with significant and controversial aspects of the national past. This avoids the 'history wars' of the international arena by not requiring students either to focus on contested features of New Zealand history or to include a local perspective on international events. An historical perspective on history education is timely. In 2010 a non-prescriptive, competency-based curriculum with a citizenship focus and influenced by the ideas of the 'knowledge society' is being implemented in New Zealand. This has significant implications for history education. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Curriculum Studies

Publication Date





671 - 691