Social Sciences Staff

Faculty Leader Bronwyn Houliston Geography & Junior SOS
Assistant Head of Faculty TBA  
Teachers Christopher Burns History
  Kirsty Hartley Senior & Junior SOS
  Renée Leckey Senior & Junior SOS
  Nicole Lorimer Junior SOS
  Katherine McGillivray Junior SOS, Travel & Tourism
  Eleanor Rattray TIC Geography


Geography – a subject of the future

Geography mixes the applied sciences and the social sciences so Students are introduced to many contemporary issues such as sustainability and resource use.

Cultural geography looks at the ways people live and make decisions within their environments. Physical geography examines the natural environment and its effects on the people living around them. In this way, Geography is a subject that is becoming increasingly important to our future.

Getting out, gaining skills

Students learn a huge range of skills while studying Geography, including site analyses, conducting interviews, mapping and graphing skills, collecting and interpreting primary and secondary data, and writing reports.

Students of Geography at St Mary’s get out and about! Year 11 students examine tourism issues on Waiheke Island, Year 12s look at changes in urban Auckland, and Year 13s take a day trip to Omaha Beach to examine coastal processes. The range of topics available include:

  • Earthquake processes and impacts
  • Population issues in New Zealand and a comparison with India
  • Our ageing population
  • El Niñ
  • ‘Affluenza’ – the sickness of greed
  • Coastal geography
  • The Amazon Basin and issues of development

Third World – First World differences and the issues that arise

History – appreciating the past

History enables students to acquire the knowledge and understanding, historical skills, and values and attitudes essential to an appreciation of the past. It also prepares students for informed and active citizenship in a changing world.

A framework for understanding

History provides a framework that gives an understanding of New Zealand society and an insight into the social, economic and political issues shaping the world today. There is an emphasis on the part individuals and groups have played in past events and a focus on how perspectives on an issue may differ.

Enhancing skills through study

This subject enhances thinking, reasoning and analytical skills, as well as developing specialist enquiry, interpretation and communication skills. The topics studied include:

  • Origins of World War II 1919-1945,
  • New Zealand’s Search for Security 1945-1985 and
  • Black Civil Rights in USA 1954-1970.

Impact from dramatic events

Dramatic events and their impact on the world are studied along with key personalities such as Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia, Rasputin and Lenin, Gandhi in India, and the fatal attraction of Adolf Hitler in Germany and consequences for Europe and the world.

English social history

At Year 13 the course examines the history of England 1558-1667. Students will study social history in Early Modern England, as well as the Tudor and Stuart monarchs, the reasons for the Civil War and Cromwell's subsequent experiments in government.

“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.” – Edward Gibbon

Social Studies

Senior Social Studies is taught at Level 3 only. Students study social issues from around the world, including the work of Invisible Children in Uganda and differences within Hinduism in India.

Research topic

Students also conduct their own research on a topic that is important to them, and examine cultural diversity within New Zealand. Senior Social Studies gives students a wider appreciation of the world and social issues that are occurring. The aim is that students will continue to take social action in their future.