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Parliamentary Service
20 May 2010
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Understanding Parliament

Explore Parliament interactive website teaching resource

This resource is linked to Levels 3/4/5 of the New Zealand Social Studies Curriculum.

Strand - social organisation

Achievement objectives

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to:

Level 3

Understand how groups make and implement rules and laws.

Level 4

Understand how formal and informal groups make decisions that impact on communities.

Understand how people participate individually and collectively in response to community challenges.

Level 5

Understand how systems of government in New Zealand operate and affect people’s lives, and how they compare with another system.

Students will have the opportunity to gain understanding, knowledge and skills in the following:

  • Rules provide a framework for individuals to function within a group.
  • Rules are a response to community challenges.
  • People within a group can participate in the making of these rules – this is called democracy.
  • Parliament makes the rules (laws) for the country.
  • There is a process which Parliament must follow to make a new law.

Explore Parliament – interactive website

The following activities 1-6 are designed to be used with the interactive website resource “Explore Parliament” ( )

Activity one – why have rules?

Split your class into three groups. Have each group brainstorm one of the following:

  • What is a rule? Give examples
  • Why do we have rules?
  • Who makes the rules?

Nominate a reporter and a writer in each group and have them feed back to the class. Discuss findings.

Back in their groups, students list as many classroom and school rules. Nominate a different reporter and writer, and have them feed back to the class.

Discussion questions:

  • Why was the rule made?
  • Who made it?
  • Why is the rule essential?

Students return to their groups and attempt to place their rules into different categories, e.g. personal safety, care of equipment, care of property, personal responsibility. Discuss findings.

Activity two – Parliament makes the law

Ask the question: At school we have rules, on the sports field we have rules - what is the name that we give ‘rules’ that are in place in our country?

Reinforce that for people to live harmoniously in a country it is necessary to have laws. Parliament makes the laws.

Whole class discussion – students list all the laws that they are familiar with.

In pairs students take a law from the class list and outline all the reasons why they feel the law was made. What would the consequences be if Parliament had not made the law?

Discuss findings.

Activity three – law making in Zilargoye

Introduce the interactive resource

Zilargoye (Zi – laa – goy) like New Zealand is a democracy. In a democracy people can have input into the law making process. Discuss.

Through discussion, bring about the idea that Zilargoye is currently experiencing a transport problem, and it looks like Parliament may have to get involved.

Students complete the first interactive experience ‘Zilargoye’ from the Explore Parliament site on the Parliament website.

The first 7 pages of the interactive experience require the students to do quite a lot of reading. You may want to read through the pages with your students to ensure everybody is able to follow the experience.

When your students become citizens of Zilargoye, have them introduce themselves to each other, using their new names.

What are the main issues or arguments that come from the three newspaper articles? Discuss.

When you get to page 8, your students are introduced to Craken Dryad MP. Your students have all been given new Zilargoye identities and now it’s your turn – you are Craken Dryad MP.

Inform your students that you are going to introduce a bill (proposal for a new law) to Parliament. The title of your bill is the ‘Carpet Racer Bill’, the proposed height will be set at 100m, speed – 80km and the minimum age is to be set at 12 years. Have your students enter these details.

First game:

The first game requires your students to debate on your behalf (Craken Dryad). Reinforce that when members of Parliament debate a bill they need over 50% (half) support for the bill to progress to the next stage.

At the submission stage, revisit the bill in its original form: height 100m, speed 80km, age 12 years. If students agree with all three then they must state why, if they disagree they must nominate a new height/distance/age and state why.

Reiterate the select committee stage. Committee asked for public input (submissions) and based on that information the committee may have made some changes.

Students now have an opportunity to see whether any of their changes have been adopted.

Complete the interactive experience.

Closing class discussion – what were the stages that the bill went through before it became a law?

Activity four – tackling the issue

Explain that a new edition of the ‘Zilargoye Times’ highlights further concerns for the magical country.

‘Radiation wreaks havoc on lush forest’.

‘Long range environmental forecast: Zilargoye is doomed!‘

‘Environmentalists burn carpets on Parliament grounds in protest!’

‘Get used to walking’ says leading health expert.

‘New research shows 1 in 5 elves are overweight’.

‘Two suns, twice the burn’.

‘Prime Minister Tipkins Faire urges young elves to get an education as unemployment rises’.

In groups have students choose one of the newspaper headlines. Have each group write their headline on a piece of paper. Ask them to identify the issue they feel it relates to.

Students record some ideas which might be discussed in the article underneath the headline.

Explain the media is a powerful tool for informing citizens about a problem or issue. Have a discussion on the positive and negative aspects of media coverage.

Ask students to return to their groups and formulate some questions which a T.V. host might ask an expert discussing their issue on a current affairs programme. Groups can then present their questions to the class. This can also be covered as a class activity with the class choosing one of the issues and formulating questions as a whole class.

Activity five - create a bill

Explain that ideas for bills can come from the Government, members of Parliament or members of the public.

Using the website, have your students log on to ‘Create a bill’. Go through the model bill with your students; discuss each clause and the purpose.

Students create a bill for their problem (newspaper headline) in Zilargoye.

Activity six – how a bill becomes a law in New Zealand

Display the two diagrams of the passage of a bill side by side – Zilargoye and New Zealand.

Discuss the similarities and differences between the two diagrams. The results of this discussion could be recorded using a Venn diagram. Discuss the positives ad negatives of the differences.

What effect would the differences have in terms of length of time it takes to make a law and opportunities to make changes to the proposed law?


Ask students to imagine other issues facing the population of Zilargoye which could prompt the need for the legislation.

Make a class list.

Students could propose a possible bill to address one of the problems.