Explore the reasons for retaining and maintaining treasures from the past (hisorical sites).

This education resource looks at four unique historic sites in New Zealand:

  • Lindis Pass Hotel (Canterbury)
  • Golden Point Battery (Otago)
  • Kaiaraara Dam (Great Barrier Island)
  • Maungauika/North Head (Auckland)

It links to websites, videos and learning tools which provide practical activities to develop your students' knowledge and skill.

About the resource

Learning levels

  • Primary
  • Secondary 


  • Historic places
  • Marine and coastal

Curriculum learning areas

  • Social science
  • Technology
  • Education for sustainablility

Achievement objectives

  • Students will understand how people remember and record the past in different ways.
  • Students will understand that people participate individually and collectively in response to community challenges.
  • Students will understand how technological development expands human possibilities and how technology draws on knowledge from a wide range of disciplines.  

Learning outcomes

  • Students will list criteria that can be used to determine the historical significance and importance of a place, building or item in their area.
  • Students will decide and list the type of items that should be preserved from an earlier era.
  • Students will draw a four frame cartoon that explains what technology actually is.
  • Students will sketch a piece of equipment that illustrates the technological needs and achievements from another era.
  • Students will problem solve in groups and explain how a working machine could get on site.
  • Students will analyse a video of a kauri dam and explain how they actually worked.
  • Students will gather evidence that shows people in their area may have been threatened by others at some time.
  • Students will decide and then explain why a site should or shouldn't be restored to reflect a particular time period. 

View the resource

DOC and TVNZ collaborated to create the "NZ History: They're oldies but goodies" which was written by DOC ranger Mike Tapp.

Contents of resource:

A. The Lindis Pass Hotel

Restoring an historic hotel from the gold mining era.

1. Begin with the starter activity An oldie but a goodie (PDF, 65K) on the TVNZ website. It will tune students into the topic and check what they already know. Ideas can be discussed as a class or in groups.

2. This activity has students designing criteria to assess whether something really is a treasure and should be kept.

Ian Bowman, a leading conservation architect, says age is only one factor when assessing historic buildings:

"Other factors can be design, events or significant people associated with the building, significant technology, public esteem, spiritual or religious significance or even a place with a particular sense to it." 

Groups now design a chart like this example on the TVNZ website Worth keeping? (PDF, 66K). They make up a set of criteria they believe is important when assessing an item's historical significance. They use their criteria to choose some treasures from their own area and then share their ideas with other groups.

3. The first video depicts a pub from Otago's gold rush days. Find out what your students know, or think they know about these times.

For example:

  • Where were the gold rushes?
  • When did the Otago gold rush happen? (1862/3)
  • What did the miners need?
  • What did they live in?
  • What did they do when they weren't looking for gold?

Record ideas on a chart like this one on the TVNZ website Know it all chart (PDF, 47K) and then do some research to find out more and add to the chart.

This information on Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand will be useful:

4. In pairs decide what might still be around from the gold rush days that is worth preserving. Share, list and discuss ideas as a class.

Imagine the objects that people brought into or left outside a hotel during the gold rush times. List some items, that if sealed in a time capsule, would have helped build an understanding of the people and the lives they led.

5. Watch the Meet the Locals episode Lindis Pass Hotel. It's about an historic building and a rescue package put in place by locals.

Show your students this map of the Lindis Conservation Area (PDF, 315K) and decide what a "pass" is and why this site was chosen as the site of the hotel.

Build up a picture of the Lindis Conservation Area by sharing the nature and conservaiton of the area and the tracks. Look at the extremes of weather for example and the type of terrain.

Get your students to look for three key things as they watch the video:

  • Why did this building deteriorate?
  • What's being done to save it?
  • What can the building tell you about the area and the times? (Consider the building materials.)

Now watch the Meet the Locals episode Lindis Pass Hotel.

Discuss the students' ideas after the video with a focus on the people involved in the restoration and why they thought it was important.

6. In groups look at the impact of a restoration from the local's point of view. Download this restoration impact T chart (PDF, 25K) from the TVNZ website. This will help focus students' thinking.

Share the charts as a class and together decide if a site like this warrants a full and working restoration that sees it being used as a pub again.

Return to your list of criteria that assessed the historical significance. Groups use their criteria to decide whether the Lindis Pass Hotel should be given an A, B or C listing - "A" being a full and working restoration.

B. Golden Point Battery

This Meet the Locals episode shows a stamper battery from the gold mining days. It's in Macraes Flat in Central Otago.

The steel shafts and shoes of stamper batteries moved up and down crushing the rocks into a powder finer than sand which was then washed over mercury coated copper sheets where fine gold particles could be recovered.

7. Ask the students for their ideas on what technology actually is? "How do we explain it?

Give your students the simple definition below and get them to draw a four frame cartoon strip that illustrates each part of this definition. They can base their cartoon on a piece of technology of their choice. (Make sure you don't get 20 mobile phones!)

Technology is when you Need it, Design it, Make it, Use it. (You could add market and sell it!)

As a class, assess each cartoon to decide if the chosen piece of technology should be kept in working order for future generations:

You could use these criteria to assess each piece: 
In the future will it show:

  • How technology has developed?
  • How people have always been innovative?
  • How technology follows a process?

8. In groups get the students to solve the problem below. They should sketch their design on a big piece of paper and then share their idea with others.

Very few gold miners really struck it rich. Gabriel Read did when he crossed an Otago stream to get his dog and found a rich seam. He dug and panned 198 grams of gold in 10 hours. He was lucky. Most miners picked, panned and dug away but found very little gold.

Many rocks had tiny bits of gold trapped in them but getting each little bit out by hand was almost impossible.

Come up with a simple machine that could somehow take big lots of rock and recover the tiny pieces of gold that they might hold.

9. In groups or by themselves students choose a likely looking machine and write an action plan to get it up and running on the old goldfields. They need to consider things like this:

  • Who will help? (Most miners just worked by themselves hoping for a big strike.)
  • What skills would these helpers need?
  • How could you get your chosen team to help? (They'll need some sort of incentive.)
  • Where would this machine go?
  • What raw materials would you need to make it?
  • How would you get the rock to the machine?
  • How would you power it?
  • What would you do to stop it breaking down?

Share the plans as a class and assess the probability of success.

10. Now watch this video of a stamper battery in action.

As a class decide:

  • Whose design best matched this one.
  • How does this stamper battery actually work?

Explain that the chemical mercury was used to help extract the gold.

This resource about extracting gold from rock on the Rough Science website will help your students work out how a battery stamper works and how mercury was used to extract the gold.

In pairs, students can read about the stamper battery and draw a simple flow chart using text and pictures that shows how a stamper and mercury, can combine to get gold from rock.

Now watch the Meet the Locals episode Golden Point Battery.

As a class decide:

  • Is the design similar to the stamper in the first video clip?
  • Which parts actually crushed the rock?
  • Did the video show the plate that collected the gold?
  • Which part would hold the mercury?
  • Why was a good water supply necessary?
  • What times of the year should the DOC Rangers get the stamper battery running?

11. One tourist posted this information on a web based travel site:

There were various boards around the site but we have, as yet, found no DOC information sheets for the area.

Students can design an information sheet for the site. It needs:

  • a headline
  • map
  • stamper description
  • at least one picture
  • and any other information tourists will need and that will attract them to the site. The stamper start up dates for example, would be handy information.

Golden Point Historic Reserve has some useful information too.

C. Kaiaraara Dam

This video explores a dam used in the kauri logging days on Great Barrier Island. It was one of hundreds built around the country to carry the logs from inaccessible spots down to the coast.

Most of the kauri timber was taken during the 19th century and by 1897, 75% of the kauri forests had been cut. By then kauri was being milled at an average rate of 236,000 cubic metres a year and the dams were playing their part in the destruction of the forests.

12. Decide what an "export" is then build some knowledge of the kauri industry with this worksheet Goodbye to kauri (PDF, 64K) on the TVNZ website. It's a flow chart activity students can do individually or in groups and it shows how one event will lead to another.

13. Decide in groups what types of technology was needed and probably developed at the different stages in the kauri industry. For example, what would du Fresne's men need in 1772, as they selected, chopped, moved and shaped the first kauri log for their mast?

Other examples could include the need to:

  • move the logs from deep within the forest
  • cut the logs long ways in the forest
  • load them on board the ships
  • mill them quickly into boards
  • move timber to point of sale
  • bleed trees for gum and dig for gum

14. Check out the kauri dam photos on these web sites and as a class decide how the dams worked.

Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand: Kauri dam in action (3 photos)

Great Barrier Island Kauri Dam (2 photos)

Now watch the Meet the Locals episode Kaiaraara Dam. Get your students to look and listen for these things as they watch:

  • How were the logs moved before they had the dam?
  • How were the logs "shot" into the streams?
  • How did the smaller dams help the main dam work really well?

15. The dams are still standing today and were built without engineering drawings, calculations or heavy machinery. They withstood the pressure of tons of water and a massive force of logs and water surging through them when the dam was tripped. It was an impressive feat.

Watch the video again and then have the students list the problems and solutions that had to be found in building a dam like this. Share and evaluate the ideas.

16. In groups decide how the dam contributed to destruction of forest.

(The dams made the removal of trees from inaccessible areas possible so a lot more trees were taken. The massive surge of logs and water flowing to coast caused forest damage and soil erosion.)

Now use your criteria and assess this site for historical significance. Decide whether this site is worthy of an A, B or C rating for historical heritage. (A being - do all we can to protect it.)

D. North Head

We look at the fortress that stands guard over the Waitemata Harbour protecting Auckland from possible attack.

"It is considered the most significant coastal defence site in the country because of the size and variety of its defence installations and the fact that it includes elements from all periods of New Zealand's coast defence history spanning nearly 120 years of military history." DOC

17. Enjoy this video clip from YouTube and then decide as a class if there really have been times when people in New Zealand felt they were under threat.

In pairs, students draw a simple map of their local area and mark on any evidence that shows people were threatened at some time...or thought they might be. (For example pa sites, redoubts, memorials, "pillboxes" around our coast.)

Students do some research and draw a visual timeline that records the periods in New Zealand's history where people have felt threatened. It should show how they have readied themselves for a possible attack by:

  • Enemies with hand weapons
  • Enemies with muskets
  • Enemies involved in the Land Wars
  • The Russian Fleet!
  • Enemies of World War 11

18. Maungauika (the Mountain of Uika) was one of three cone pa in the Devonport area and built on one of the oldest volcanic cones in the Auckland volcanic field. Interestingly, the main pa appears to have been at nearby Takarunga (Mt Victoria).

Maungauika was occupied by Maori. Early photographs show remnants of Maori gardens on the hill's lower slopes, but there are no signs of the earthwork defences prominent on Auckland's other volcanic cones.

Give your students the information above and this photo and map of Mt Victoria on the Panoramio website.

In groups they can decide:

  • Why Maori settled in this area and
  • Why Takarunga was chosen as the main pa

19. Show the Meet the Locals episode North Head.

As they watch, the students should look for evidence or reasons why:

  • People really did believe that the threat of attack was very serious
  • North Head attracts so many visitors

Discuss these reasons in class and use your criteria to assess this historical site.

Decide whether Takarunga - Mt Victoria should also be restored, to reflect Maori history.

20. Try this Oldies but Goodies - assessment activity (PDF, 63K) on the TVNZ website. It focuses on the design of an interpretation sign.

21. Active involvement - an optional extra!

Check out a local restoration project. You may be able to visit a site with someone who is working on it...or invite them to school to show what is happening.

Find out:

  • What are they trying to do?
  • What's their dream or vision?
  • How are they doing it?
  • What are some of their challenges?
  • What do they get out of it?

Find out about a restoration need in your community and decide whether you could make a difference.

Try this success factors chart (PDF, 48K) on the TVNZ website to decide if this project has a good chance of success.

Now think about your conservation vision:

  • What do you need to do to make your vision real?
  • What are some steps toward your vision that you can take?

You're ready to design your action plan. Download the action plan template (PDF, 12K) from the TVNZ website. Good luck!

Related historic heritage topics


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