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Social Sciences - Tikanga-ā-iwi

Social Sciences - Tikanga-ā-iwi

Unuhia te rito o te kōrari kei hea te Kōmako e kō?
Whakatairangitia – rere ki uta, rere ki tai;
Ui mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te Ao,
Māku e kī atu he tangata, he tangata, he tangata!

Remove the heart of the flax bush and where will the Kōmako sing?
Proclaim it to the land, proclaim it to the sea;
Ask me, “What is the greatest thing in the world?”
I will reply, “It is people, it is people, it is people!”

The Social Sciences Department of Mt Roskill Grammar School offers a range of courses that enable students to adapt to a changing society, so that they may participate as confident, informed and responsible members of that society.

Social Science is made up of junior Social Studies, Classical Studies, Geography, History and Tourism.  Each of these programmes gives our students the opportunity to explore and understand past, present and future societies.  Our students develop skills including thinking and literacy.  They are encouraged to co-operate and build relationships with others. Our students also have the opportunity to exercise self-management.   

The senior programmes extend these skills and knowledge through the National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) courses, preparing students for life long learning.

Teachers in our department are experienced, enthusiastic and are devoted to the teaching of interesting and essential learning which is required to create confident, effective adults.

The Social Sciences Department is a large department of 16 teachers covering a range of subjects including Social Studies at year 9 & 10, Geography and History from year 11-13, Classical Studies at year 12 &13 and Tourism at year 10, 12 and 13.


The Social Sciences Department is made up of 14 classrooms with a computer room available for class use.

Social Studies

Social Studies forms the core of Mount Roskill Grammar’s Social Science programme in the junior school. Social Studies runs at Years 9 and 10 and is made up primarily of units of work devoted to History and Geography, however, we also cover a more diverse range of subjects including Economics, Sociology and Psychology replica watches while we teach our junior students. The purpose of the Social Studies programme is to assist students with their literacy skills and to prepare students for senior Social Science subjects such as Classical Studies, Geography, History and Tourism.

In Year 9 we study:

  • Our Place – Auckland and New Zealand History and Geography
  • China – China’s Geography and recent History leading up to Communist rule in China
  • Decision Makers – New Zealand’s system of government in comparison to other systems
  • Pacific Island Communities – The Geography and History of the Pacific Region
  • The American West – The History of American Migration

In Year 10 we study:

  • Global Issues – Important political, environmental and social issues impacting the world
  • The Treaty of Waitangi – The history surrounding New Zealand’s founding document
  • India – A study of Indian Geography and modern History
  • The Crusades – The history of the medieval crusading movement
  • Nazi Germany – The history behind Hitler’s rise to power in Germany

Examples of students´ work


Level 1 Geography

The course is a good introduction to the world we live in and how we relate to it.  It is particularly useful if you are interested in careers like the travel industry, urban and city planning, environmental management, foreign affairs, etc.  During the course students will visit the Auckland Museum, a Dairy farm and have the opportunity to explore the volcanic wonders of the Tarawera area.

Level 2 Geography

The course deepens your understanding of the world people live in and how it / they affect each other.  It is particularly useful if you are interested in careers like the travel industry, urban and city planning, environmental management, foreign affairs, education, etc.  Students will have the opportunity to visit the Tongariro area as part of their study of natural landscapes.

Level 3 Geography

The course is a solid preparation for studying Geography or its related disciplines at a tertiary level. It is particularly useful if you are interested in careers like conservation work, urban and city planning, environmental management, education or human resources.  Students are involved in field work and also have the opportunity to visit the Gold Coast.


History is an Achievement Standard subject that is taught at years 11, 12 and 13.

Why take this subject?

Apart from being an interesting subject, History helps you to develop a wide range of skills which will be of great value in many areas.  These include:

  • a variety of reading and comprehension skills;
  • writing skills;
  • listening, understanding and accepting differing viewpoints
  • research skills
  • resource interpretation
  • presentation skills

Where does this subject lead?

History is valuable in many careers including Law, Public Service and the Travel Industry and any job requiring report writing or the gathering and organising of information, such as police, business management and medicine.

At Year 11 students study major issues of the twentieth century, topics chosen for their interest and importance in understanding New Zealand and the world today. The topics include:-

  1. The Origins of World War II
  2. New Zealand's foreign policy since 1945
  3. Conflict in Palestine/Israel
  4. Black Civil Rights in the USA

The Year 12 course concentrates on aspects of 19h and 20th century history, which shed a light on the international politics of this century. The topics include:-

  1. The Revolution in Russia
  2. Weimar Germany and the Rise of the Nazi State
  3. The Conflict in Indo-China
  4. The Development of New Zealand’s National Identity

The Year 13 course, which prepares students for tertiary study has potentially 2 courses available, and they are Tudor – Stuart England or 19th Century New Zealand.

In the Tudor - Stuart course we cover social history which includes:- 

  1. Families and gender roles
  2. Religion, the institutional Church and popular belief
  3. Economy and Society

There is also a section on political history which includes the personal monarchies of Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I and how they governed England, and the issues and situations each monarch faced. A third section covers the progression to Civil war during the reign of Charles I, the Civil War and execution of Charles I and the many forms of government in England between the death of Charles and the restoration of his son Charles II almost 20 years later.

Department Trips

There is a trip to the Army Museum at Waiouru which fits best with the Year 12 topic in New Zealand Identity, and in the last 2 years we have had a super time on that trip. Year 13 has a day at the University where the students gat a taste of the lecture theatre and acquire valuable revision material at the same time.

The department shares with the English Department MUNA, the Model United Nations Assembly, a 2 day event of a team of students who represent a specific country at a mock United Nations Assembly. This takes place a AGGS and is an enormous amount of fun (especially if the students are brave enough to wear the appropriate costumes.

And it is also possible to learn history through movies, or at least see how accurate Hollywood can be????

Classical Studies

The Classical Studies Department offers both a year 12 and a year 13 course. In each we learn about the society, literature and art of the ancient Greek and Roman Societies of over 2000 years ago. Both year levels sit Achievement Standard courses that consist of both internal and external credits.


In this course we cover the following topics:


We learn about the nature of the Greek Gods, the ancient Greek heroes (like Achilles, Jason, Theseus, Heracles), the Trojan War and the place that this all held in the lives of everyday Greek people.


We study the epic story of the return home, from the Trojan War, of one of Greece’s most famous heroes – Odysseus. We read about the monsters he meets along the way, the love stories that are interwoven and the development of the central character into an all conquering hero.


We study the ancient temples, civic buildings, bronze and marble statues and relief sculptures of the city that was the artistic centre of the ancient world. These same art works are amongst the most visited tourist attractions of the Mediterranian to this day. As well as studying these works we look at the development of artistic ability and style across this period of time (the most artistically prolific time in the ancient Greek world)


We study some ancient sources (literary and archaeological) to illustrate what life was like in the biggest of ancient empires from the reign of the son of Julius Caesar (Augustus).


In this course we cover the following topics:


This topic is a brief introduction to the society and historical background of Greece in the time that Aristophanes wrote his popular comedies. In class we study one of his plays. Students then complete independent research on another of his plays for the internal assessment.


We cover the incredible career of arguably one of the world’s greatest conquerors. Students look at many primary sources and analyse the achievements and downfalls of this huge historical character.


We study 16 set pieces, looking at architecture, sculpture and relief sculpture of the Roman Empire. The influence of the Greeks and other artists / architectural works from this period on the Imperial works is tracked.


A study of the poem written during the reign of emperor Augustus. Virgil wrote about the Trojan war and its aftermath from the defeated peoples point of view. This topic links together several topics from both the year 12 and the year 13 courses.


These two courses stand alone so students can do year 13 without having done year 12, however, the two courses compliment each other and students who have done year 12 will have a deeper understanding of the work that they cover in year 13

We do various trips out of school to support our in class learning. These may include:

  • Trip to the museum to discover ancient architecture in modern buildings
  • Movie trips that reinforce and challenge our ideas of what constitutes a hero
  • A visit from a touring ‘Bard’ who gives us a first hand picture of the poetry that the ancients created


The Tourism department has gone from strength to strength in recent years. We now have a team of talented and experienced staff with the dashing good looks of Mr Winny, Mr Dunbar and Mr Swanwick setting the tone in Yr12 and elegant sophistication of Mrs Leigh, Mrs Tonga and Mr Davis at Yr 13. Mr Gipps and Mrs Allen complete the department with their youthful enthusiasm and passion for the subject. The course is designed as an introduction to the travel and tourism industry which currently employs 1 in every 11 new Zealanders. In Year 12 we concentrate on New Zealand as a destination, looking further afield in Yr 13 to Australia and the South West Pacific.

We now have over 240 students in the senior school and three introductory classes in Yr 10. We have worked hard to achieve a 90% success rate in all unit standards undertaken offering 33 credits at Yr 12 and 34 at Year 13. We have new qualifications arriving next year and so are working to introduce the new standards while maintaining our outstanding pass rates. Upcoming highlights for the department include two industry visits next months where we shall be working with our Yr 12 students at MOTAT and Auckland Zoo. Later in the year there is the Yr13 trip to the Gold Coast of Australia to look forward to as well as our traditional day at Rainbows End at the end of the course in Term 4.


Recent Events and Trips beyond the classroom

Social Studies

Some Year 9 students travel to Wellington on a three day trip that includes a tour of famous spots like the Beehive and Te Papa. Other Year 9 experience an interesting Tiki - tour of Auckland famous sights including a visit to the Sky Tower where they observe and identify features from a 360° view of the city. Other year 9 class head off to the Maritime Museum at the Viaduct to discover displays on New Zealand Identity and our Pacific heritage. Several year 9 classes take an excursion up to the top of Mt. Roskill to get a better glimpse of local history and geography.

Some Year 10 students experience a three day trip to the north where they visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, marae, Matakohe Kauri Museum, Opua Forest, Russell and other national treasures. Year 10 classes participate in a medieval festival held here at Mt. Roskill to learn about life during the Crusades.


The Year 13 students attend the School’s History Day, organised by the Auckland History Teachers Association, at the University of Auckland.

The Year 12 & 13 students had a three day trip to the Waiouru Army Museum and the Tangiwai Memorial.

Two or three teams are usually entered in the Model United Nations Assembly (MUNA) debate.


Year 11 visit the very impressive Volcanic Eruptions exhibit at the Auckland Museum. Year 12 students spend a day doing research and data collection in Auckland City Centre. Year 13 students visit Muriwai Beach and complete independent research. Every two years, year 12 & 13 Geography and Tourism students get the opportunity to take part in a very successful seven day tour of the Gold Coast, Australia. It is intended to run this trip again in 2009.


We had several guest speakers throughout the year and have a range of trips. In the last two years these have included the Airport, Kelly Tarlton’s, MOTAT, the Zoo and Rainbows End.


Each year we have a visiting performer, Bringwonder, who entertains the year 12 and 13 students with the story of Odysseus’ journey home after the Trojan war. Year 12 also visit the Museum to study examples of Roman architecture.

Mount Roskill Grammar School - Frost Road, Mount Roskill, Auckland New Zealand T:+64 9 6210050 F:+64 9 6210055 Terms & Conditions  Site Credits