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The Social Sciences faculty consists of six departments: Social Studies (Junior School), Classical Studies, History, Geography, Commerce, Travel & Tourism and Philosophy.

Social Sciences are those subjects designed to inspire students about the world we live in. Passionate and highly qualified staff teach a wide range of topics that not only prepare students for further education, but for life as informed and responsible citizens.

Social Studies

The Social Studies is a compulsory core subject in Year 9 and 10. The topics are diverse and incorporate current societal issues.

The key skills that we focus on include: critical thinking, robust inquiry, developing well informed opions and effective communication. Not only do these key skills help students continue studies within the Faculty, they are important life skills. The specific content that we cover provides a context to better interpret real life experiences.

Year 9

  • Rutherford Tikanga: This is My Community – what makes being Rutherford College special? Why is the local area special to us? What is culture?
  • Conflict: War and keeping the peace – what leads to conflict between groups and how are these conflicts resolved?
  • Water: Marine resources and their use – how do people interact with the ocean environment, manage resources and participate in economic activities.
  • Class chosen topic

Year 10

  • Journeys: The significance of movement – why do different groups move and what is the impact on the origin and destination?
  • Government: Human rights and social justice – how do societies organise their governments? Why are not all people treated equally?
  • Contrasts: Rich world, poor world – how does access to resources determine wealth.
  • Class chosen topic

Classical Studies

This course involves the study of the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome. This includes the history, literature, art and philosophy of these ancient cultures and their links to the modern world. These ancient civilisations are recognised as providing the foundation for western civilisation.

The course is recognised by universities and allows entrance to limited entry courses as well as providing literacy credits at level two and three.

Scholarship is available for advanced students.

The subject requires and teaches a high level of literacy and provides ample opportunities for subject endorsements. The skills taught are highly transferrable to any other literature / research based subjects, or employment requiring these types of skills.

Topics include, but are not restricted to, Roman art and architecture, Roman social life, the Odyssey, the Aeneid and the life & career of Alexander the Great.


Geography is about the relationship between people and places.

It is a dynamic subject that explores the past, the present and the future.  It considers those issues that shape the natural and cultural world we live in.

Geography is a subject that is highly regarded by universities and employers alike as it teaches such a broad base of skills and ideas while still focusing on critical thinking.  Geography students are recognised as perceptive, innovative and wide-ranging thinkers and communicators.

A range of topics are used to examine both internally and externally assessed standards.  These topics include natural landscapes, extreme natural events, geographic issues and patterns, both in New Zealand and around the world, resource use and sustainability.

Field trips are an integral part of Geography.  All year levels go on a number of field trips that supplement classroom learning and provide real life experiences and evidence of what is being taught.


Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, truth, justice, beauty, validity, mind and language. Examples of philosophical questions include: What is bravery? How do we know what the world is really like? Is it morally acceptable to enjoy violent movies and games? What is the meaning of truth, wisdom and beauty, and how should we pursue them?

Philosophy pushes students to use reason and logical argument to explore the limits of their understanding. It develops students’ ability to question and to form rational, plausible arguments in a wide variety of contexts.

Studies show that the thinking skills students learn through studying philosophy help them to achieve well in many other subjects and disciplines, both logical and creative. The reasoned exchange of ideas in the classroom also fosters tolerance of and respect for others.

In Year 10 Philosophy students will consider a wide range of big questions and concepts which relate to every aspect of their lives. They will use texts, concept games, discussions and research projects to develop practical philosophical skills. These skills will help students to question the world around them, challenge ideas, develop reasoned opinions and engage with other peoples’ points-of-view.

In future years we hope to offer Philosophy as a subject at other year levels, including as an NCEA subject.


Business is a part of our every day lives.  We depend on business to supply, not only the goods and services that we need, but also our incomes.

Courses begin in Year 10 and continue through to Year 13.

Accounting – About Money

In Year 10 this is “Financial Literacy” because it is about money management at a personal level.  Topics covered include saving, budgeting, income, borrowing, documentation etc.

At senior levels, we progress through to accounting for a small business through to how large companies prepare their financial statements.  The focus is on communication of financial information for decision making.

Business Studies – About Business

These courses are about the operations and strategies of business.  At each level, the size and scope increases.

Economics – About How People Think and Behave to Satisfy Their Wants

This is a study of how individuals and groups interact in the marketplace.

Travel & Tourism

Tourism is an exciting and dynamic industry.

Globally this industry contributes millions of jobs worldwide.  Within New Zealand, it plays a significant role in the economy in terms of the production of goods & services and the creation of employment opportunities.

Tourism employs over 170,000 people in New Zealand and this subject provides students with an introduction into this incredible industry.  Field trips, tertiary visits and guest speakers provide opportunities for students to make an educated choice for future career aspirations.

The Year 12 course is based on unit standard assessment and gives students skills in industry based roles.

The Year 13 course is also unit standard assessment based and gives students knowledge of New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands as tourist destinations.


History encourages students to think about how the past influences the present, both in our physical surroundings and within the people that populate them.

Historical events and their meaning remain a souce of debate in New Zealand, despite our apparent status as a “young” country, and studying History can enable the students to analyse the assumptions and preconceptions behind what was.

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