Maori history 'neglected'

Acclaimed historian finds it incredible that major historical sites are not remembered.

Acclaimed historian finds it incredible that major historical sites are not remembered.

BOOK SIGNING: Historian Vincent O’Malley autographs a copy of his book The Great War For New Zealand for Nedine Thatcher-Swann. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

NOTED New Zealand Wars historian Vincent O’Malley has to work hard to find some of the most significant and historical sites in the country. It is not like going to Gettysburg, he said.

Mr O’Malley last year attended the 150th commemoration of the Siege of Waerenga a Hika, where 71 Turanga Maori and 11 Government and Ngati Porou forces were killed.

The site is on State Highway 2, unknown to most New Zealanders, and until last year was not marked or honoured in any way.

“I cannot believe how badly colonial Maori history is neglected," Mr O’Malley said.

"I have spent a lot of time wandering around the country looking for historic sites. They are not even signposted. That, to me, is incredible."

Mr O’Malley was in Gisborne to give a public address as part of the battle of Waerenga a Hika commemorations, having previously given evidence to the Waitangi Tribunal Turanga hearings.

He unfavourably compared the neglect of New Zealand historical sites to their American equivalents. Sites such as Gettysburg were protected and had heritage status and museums dedicated to them.

“Here we put roads through the middle of such sites. Settlers went out of their way to erase such sites as a form of cultural destruction. It was a way of saying ‘we are in charge’.”

Mr O’Malley welcomed the recent announcement of Raa Maumahara National Day of Commemoration, which will start next year on October 28 to commemorate the New Zealand Wars.

The national day was long overdue and had come about after much debate, he said. He was not concerned the Government had not made the day a statutory holiday.

“The day is an opportunity for reflection and to commemorate these events in our history. Hopefully it will develop into something like Anzac Day.”

The Great War for New Zealand

Mr O’Malley recently released his latest book, the highly-acclaimed The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000.

His view was that the New Zealand Wars were a more defining moment in the country’s history than Gallipoli or the great World War 1 battles on the Western Front.

The consequences were profound and still affected the country today.

The Treaty of Waitangi was disregarded, massive land confiscations occurred, a prosperous and thriving Maori economy (where iwi traded with settlers and exported goods to as far away as California) was destroyed, Maori-Pakeha relations were set back generations, all of which left Maori alienated and marginalised.

The Waikato Wars were a deliberate war of invasion and conquest, with the aim of asserting colonial control over Maori.

Mr OMalley said few New Zealanders knew that, at the time, outside of the townships of Auckland and Wellington, Maori controlled their own affairs, as they had done since before 1840.

The Waikato Wars happened at a time of changing demographics, when settlers were beginning to outnumber Maori.
Settlers coveted Maori land, said Mr O’Malley

“There’s a desire to stamp out Maori independence and autonomy to impose the Crown’s understanding of what the Treaty was about.”

Mr O’Malley said victory in the Waikato gave the colonial Government confidence to launch a similar invasion in Turanga.

Maori King movement

He explained that the title of his book came from Wiremu Tamihana, described as the "Kingmaker” for his role in founding the Maori King moment, who described the land wars as “the great war for New Zealand”.

The book’s title includes the date 2000. Mr O’Malley said that is because he covers the modern era of reconciliation, apology and settlement.

New Zealanders should now know their own history. Reconciliation and dialogue could not prosper without it.

There were promising signs, with Otorohanga students successfully calling for a national New Zealand Wars commemorative day and Gisborne students asking that their fellow citizens have a better knowledge and awareness of local events.

There were major commemorations coming up in Gisborne, such as the 150th anniversary of Te Kooti and the whakarau escaping from the Chatham Islands (2018), the Siege of Ngatapa (2019) and the Sestercentennial of Cook’s landing (2019).

Mr O’Malley said The Great War for New Zealand and his other books derived from research he conducted for the Waitangi Tribunal.

Would he write a book based on his Turanga research? That was a matter for iwi, he said.

NOTED New Zealand Wars historian Vincent O’Malley has to work hard to find some of the most significant and historical sites in the country. It is not like going to Gettysburg, he said.

Mr O’Malley last year attended the 150th commemoration of the Siege of Waerenga a Hika, where 71 Turanga Maori and 11 Government and Ngati Porou forces were killed.

The site is on State Highway 2, unknown to most New Zealanders, and until last year was not marked or honoured in any way.

“I cannot believe how badly colonial Maori history is neglected," Mr O’Malley said.

"I have spent a lot of time wandering around the country looking for historic sites. They are not even signposted. That, to me, is incredible."

Mr O’Malley was in Gisborne to give a public address as part of the battle of Waerenga a Hika commemorations, having previously given evidence to the Waitangi Tribunal Turanga hearings.

He unfavourably compared the neglect of New Zealand historical sites to their American equivalents. Sites such as Gettysburg were protected and had heritage status and museums dedicated to them.

“Here we put roads through the middle of such sites. Settlers went out of their way to erase such sites as a form of cultural destruction. It was a way of saying ‘we are in charge’.”

Mr O’Malley welcomed the recent announcement of Raa Maumahara National Day of Commemoration, which will start next year on October 28 to commemorate the New Zealand Wars.

The national day was long overdue and had come about after much debate, he said. He was not concerned the Government had not made the day a statutory holiday.

“The day is an opportunity for reflection and to commemorate these events in our history. Hopefully it will develop into something like Anzac Day.”

The Great War for New Zealand

Mr O’Malley recently released his latest book, the highly-acclaimed The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000.

His view was that the New Zealand Wars were a more defining moment in the country’s history than Gallipoli or the great World War 1 battles on the Western Front.

The consequences were profound and still affected the country today.

The Treaty of Waitangi was disregarded, massive land confiscations occurred, a prosperous and thriving Maori economy (where iwi traded with settlers and exported goods to as far away as California) was destroyed, Maori-Pakeha relations were set back generations, all of which left Maori alienated and marginalised.

The Waikato Wars were a deliberate war of invasion and conquest, with the aim of asserting colonial control over Maori.

Mr OMalley said few New Zealanders knew that, at the time, outside of the townships of Auckland and Wellington, Maori controlled their own affairs, as they had done since before 1840.

The Waikato Wars happened at a time of changing demographics, when settlers were beginning to outnumber Maori.
Settlers coveted Maori land, said Mr O’Malley

“There’s a desire to stamp out Maori independence and autonomy to impose the Crown’s understanding of what the Treaty was about.”

Mr O’Malley said victory in the Waikato gave the colonial Government confidence to launch a similar invasion in Turanga.

Maori King movement

He explained that the title of his book came from Wiremu Tamihana, described as the "Kingmaker” for his role in founding the Maori King moment, who described the land wars as “the great war for New Zealand”.

The book’s title includes the date 2000. Mr O’Malley said that is because he covers the modern era of reconciliation, apology and settlement.

New Zealanders should now know their own history. Reconciliation and dialogue could not prosper without it.

There were promising signs, with Otorohanga students successfully calling for a national New Zealand Wars commemorative day and Gisborne students asking that their fellow citizens have a better knowledge and awareness of local events.

There were major commemorations coming up in Gisborne, such as the 150th anniversary of Te Kooti and the whakarau escaping from the Chatham Islands (2018), the Siege of Ngatapa (2019) and the Sestercentennial of Cook’s landing (2019).

Mr O’Malley said The Great War for New Zealand and his other books derived from research he conducted for the Waitangi Tribunal.

Would he write a book based on his Turanga research? That was a matter for iwi, he said.

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lloyd gretton - 4 months ago
In the interests of freedom of speech, John Ansell and Hobson Pledge will be giving you a good run for your money.

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