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Ministry of Education.

Innocence, imagination, obsession – Heavenly creatures

Students respond to controversial ideas in the film Heavenly Creatures and the play Daughters of Heaven then deliver presentations to the class about important aspects of the film and/or the play.

Learning Outcomes | Teaching and Learning | Assessment and Evaluation | Printing Version

Writer: Lucy Moore
Year level 12
Who are my learners and what do they already know? Planning using inquiry
School curriculum outcomes How your school’s principles, values, or priorities will be developed through this unit

Learning Outcomes

 (What do my students need to learn)

Curriculum achievement objectives (AOs) for:  

Processes and strategies

Integrate sources of information, processes, and strategies purposefully, confidently, and precisely to identify, form, and express increasingly sophisticated ideas.

  • thinks critically about texts with understanding and confidence
  • creates a range of increasingly coherent, varied, and complex texts by integrating sources of information and processing strategies


Select, develop, and communicate sustained ideas on a range of topics.

  • develops, communicates, and sustains increasingly sophisticated ideas, information, and understandings

Language features

Select and integrate a range of language features appropriately for a variety of effects.

  • uses a wide range of oral, written, and visual language features fluently and with control to create meaning and effect and to sustain interest


Organise texts, using a range of appropriate, coherent, and effective structures.

  • organises and develops ideas and information for a particular purpose or effect, using the characteristics and conventions of a range of text forms with control.
Achievement Standard(s) aligned to AO(s) AS 2.5 Construct and deliver a crafted and controlled oral text

Teaching and Learning

 (What do I need to know and do?)

1-2 related professional readings or links to relevant research

Using inquiry to plan secondary English programes

English Teaching and Learning Guide 

Assessment and Examination Rules and Procedures

Learning task 1

Learning intention(s)

Establishing prior learning and linking it to the text

KCs/ Principles/Values focus


Thinking – explore texts

Learning task 1

Building Prior Knowledge

Before engaging with either text explore the Parker Hulme Case newspaper archive on the Canterbury Public Library website, which contains an archive of newspaper articles discussing the case.

Select the appropriate information in order to complete a fact sheet.

Learning task 2

Learning intention(s)

Examining key text aspects

KCs/ Principles/Values focus

Thinking – using a range of thinking strategies to build understandings

Thinking – explore texts

 Relate to others – peer discussion

Learning task 2

Reading the play Daughters of Heaven

  1. Understanding key aspects of the play Daughters of Heaven will be enhanced if a variety of approaches are used:
    • participate in drama games designed to enliven interpretation and deepen understanding of Daughters of Heaven.
    • various parts from the play could be allocated to students in advance in order to facilitate
    •  to help develop an understanding of key characters, individuals or groups could be allocated one character, in preparation for a hotseat.
  2. "Innocence. Imagination. Obsession" are three words which go a long way towards summing up the central themes in Daughters of Heaven. For each of these three words brainstorm how it is presented in the play, using quotes to support your ideas.
  3. Use a values continuum by making a judgement on the following issue:
    • Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme "have been resurrected as unlikely folk heroes - bright women in a repressive, dull town resolving a personal crisis in the only way the powerless kids knew how". Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
    • Allocate one side of the room for those who strongly agree with the question/statement and the other side of the room for those who strongly disagree with the question/statement. Go to the area of the room which represents your response to the question/statement.
    • The space in between these areas should represent a continuum where you can place yourself in according to the strength of your response. If you are unsure how you feel, stay in the middle to watch and eventually participate in the proceedings.
       The teacher then facilitates a controlled discussion by calling upon students to outline why they have taken that particular stance. At any time you may choose to adjust where you are standing.

Learning task 3

Learning intention(s)

 Examining key text aspects

KCs/ Principles/Values focus


Thinking – close reading

Learning task 3

Viewing the film Heavenly Creatures


Before viewing the film consider the choice of title. It comes from a poem, The ones that I worship, written by Juliet and Pauline. Using the text of the poem to support your ideas, write a journal entry discussing the significance of the title and its relationship to what you already know about Juliet and Pauline from your study of Daughters of Heaven.


Use the viewing focus sheet. As each group views Heavenly Creatures they should record information to help them answer the questions listed under their allocated heading. At the conclusion of the film each group should present its information to the class. Students can then incorporate relevant information as they develop their presentations.


Peter Jackson went to great lengths to use actual locations and archival film footage to precisely recreate the environment. Discuss the following points as a class:

  • What was the purpose of the archive footage? What effect did it have upon the beginning of the film?
  • How does Jackson use contrast in setting to convey the differences in the upbringing of Juliet and Pauline?
  •  In what ways is Heavenly Creatures a specifically New Zealand film? Does the fact that Heavenly Creatures is a film about New Zealanders by New Zealanders have any effect on the film as a whole?

Learning task 4

Learning intention(s)

Examining key text aspects

KCs/ Principles/Values focus


Thinking – close reading

Learning task 4

Heavenly perspectives

Heavenly Creatures and Daughters of Heaven feature different narrative perspectives. In Daughters of Heaven the audience is largely shown the situation through the eyes of Bridget O'Malley, housekeeper of the Hulme household. In Heavenly Creatures, however, Pauline's diary entries are used in a voice-over method to convey her motivation and intentions

In small groups choose a sequence from Heavenly Creatures or Daughters of Heaven which presents a subjective point of view. Talk about the effects that the subjective point of view has upon the audience's reaction to the content of the film.

Learning task 5

Learning intention(s)

 Preparing and delivering an oral presentation

KCs/ Principles/Values focus KCs: Use language, symbols and texts – structure and express understandings about texts 

Learning task 5

Deciding on a presentation topic

  1. Look over the aspects of the two texts you have worked on in tasks 1 to 4. One or more of these aspects could form the basis of your presentation. You may choose to give an impression of the play or film as a whole or a particular theme, character, quotation or scene.
  2. Make a final decision on your topic. Your presentation will be about an important aspect(s) in your study of the film Heavenly Creatures and the play Daughters of Heaven, although your presentation could focus on one text.
  3. Ensure that topic gives you enough scope to speak for at least four minutes and that it will be informative and interesting to your class. Briefly discuss your topic with your teacher before developing your presentation any further.
  4. Plan the content of your presentation. Structure your material as follows: 

    in your introduction:
    • decide on an arresting opening to interest your audience
    • which highlight the key aspect(s) of the text(s) you will focus on.
    in the body:
    • give further key details, supported by explanations or examples which could be drawn from your work in tasks 1 to 4.
    in the conclusion:
    • signal that you are finishing
    • restate your key points in summary form.

 Rehearsing and delivering your presentation

  1. You will be assessed on how well you:
  2. In pairs, practise delivering your presentation. Make any necessary adjustments. Your presentation must be at least four minutes long. Look at selected exemplars on the Level 2 NCEA Speeches and Performances video. Comparable exemplars for your presentation can be found for the internal assessment resourceI Know Where You're Coming From. Discuss the exemplars' strengths and areas they could be improved. Look at and discuss the assessment schedule.
  3. Deliver your presentation.
  4. In 2011, your presentation can be assessed against Achievement Standard 90376: Deliver a presentation. From 2012, it can be assessed against its replacement, the new Level 2 oral presentation standard, AS 2.4 Construct and deliver a crafted and controlled oral text.The same standard of oral presentation is required at each achievement level for both the old and new achievement standards.

Assessment and Evaluation

 (What is the impact of my teaching and learning?)

Formative and/or Summative assessment task(s), including how will feedback be provided AS 2.5 Construct and deliver a crafted and controlled oral text

Provision for identifying next learning steps for students who need:

  • further learning opportunities
  • increased challenge

This piece of writing should be an integrated part of the year’s writing programme. Refer to

English Teaching and Learning Guide 

Conditions of Assessment Guidelines for oral presentations.

 for more details.

Tools or ideas which, for example might be used to evaluate:

  • progress of the class and groups within it
  • student engagement

leading to :

  • changes to the sequence
  • addressing teacher learning needs
Planning using inquiry

Printing this unit:

If you are not able to access the zipped files, please download the following individual files.

Published on: 01 Dec 2010