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Ministry of Education.

In the city: New Zealand short stories

Writer: Jackie Messam

NCEA Level: 2 Duration: 7-8 weeks

Achievement standard

AS90378 (English 2.4):

It is intended that teaching and learning tasks will be used formatively to scaffold the learning of students' who are preparing for the university entrance literacy credits over two years. There would be another cycle of teaching and learning focusing on other short stories that are at the appropriate level for AS 90378.

Achievement criteria

Analyse at least two short written texts of the same genre, using supporting evidence.

Language learning outcomes

  • Analyse the literary qualities of text, especially as they relate to audience and purpose
  • Produce a literary essay
  • Analyse and become proficient in the use of vocabulary and grammar used to write literary essays.

Curriculum links

This achievement standard is derived from English in the New Zealand Curriculum, Learning Media, Ministry of Education, 1994, up to and including Level 7.

Reading: Close reading, Exploring language, Thinking critically

Links to Writing: Transactional writing.

Guidelines for use

This unit prepares students for AS 90378. Students will study two short texts as a prelude to the study of more demanding stories for the external examination at the end of the year. Students are to read and analyse two short stories by New Zealand Māori authors Big Brother Little Sister, by Witi Ihimaera and Journey by Patricia Grace. Students then write a literary essay based on an aspect of the analysis.


This unit requires both classroom time and homework time.

Note: Teachers using this unit will need to check that it accords with their school assessment policy.

Teaching and learning activities

Select and adapt these learning activities to best suit the needs of your students and to fit the time available:

Learning task 1

Learning task 2

Learning task 3



  • Grace, Patricia. Journey
  • Ihimaera, Witi. Big Brother, Little Sister
  • Ihimaera, W. (1977) The New Net Goes Fishing. Heinemann.
  • Grace, P. (1988) The Dream Sleepers. Penguin.
  • Stenson M. (2004) The Illustrated History of New Zealand. Random House.


Published on: 25 Jun 2009