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Musket – Flash in the Pan

Episode:62Te Papa Collection:History

Suggested curriculum levels:4 – 8

Curriculum connections:English: Listening, Reading, and Viewing, Social Sciences: Continuity and Change

Description:Michael Fitzgerald shows us the type of weapon that generated the expression 'a flash in the pan'.

Questions for students

  1. The narrator says, 'With the new firearms, Māori cut their teeth in the intertribal Musket Wars.' Explain the meaning of each part of that statement.
  2. The presenter says that in the 1820s, hundreds of muskets were traded with Māori in return for goods such as flax. Describe the impact of these exchanges. Use at least one example to illustrate change in Māori ways of life – and death.
  3. Make a flow chart to show the process of loading and firing a musket. What problems can you imagine a soldier would face when using these guns in the heat of battle? Explain the origin and meaning of the expression 'a flash in the pan'.
  4. Ruapekapeka was a pā purpose-built for warfare with firearms. What features illustrate this? How does it compare with the design of earlier, pre-European pā? Use the 'Comparisons' response template to show features that were the same and those that were different. Comment on the thinking behind this change in design.
  5. Trading in weapons, or arms dealing, remains a controversial topic today. Plan a debate with classmates using a proposition such as: 'That trading in weapons is no different from trading in any other commodity'.

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