Observing regions’ own ‘battle days’ part of NZ Wars commemorations

Commemorating the dates part of our 'beautiful, brutal, illustrious, deeply moving history'.

Commemorating the dates part of our 'beautiful, brutal, illustrious, deeply moving history'.

NEW ZEALAND WARS OBSERVED: New Zealand Wars committee chairman Peeni Henare visited Gisborne to open historian Vincent O’Malley’s address as part of commemorations for the 1865 siege of Waerenga a Hika. Picture by Mark Peters

THE New Zealand Wars commemoration date has been settled on as October 28.

Although no particular battle is observed on the day, regions such as Tairawhiti can decide on their own observances, says Tamaki Makarau Labour MP and New Zealand Wars committee chairman Peeni Henare.

Mr Henare visited Gisborne to open historian Vincent O’Malley’s address as part of commemorations for the 1865 siege of Waerenga a Hika.

Mr O’Malley is the author of the recently-released book The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800 to 2000.

The New Zealand Wars began in the South Island but were also fought in the North Island. Battle sites in this region included Matawhero, Ngatapa and Waerenga a Hika.

Reluctant to be drawn on the question of whether the wars or New Zealand’s World War 1 experience defined the nation, Mr Henare said he appreciated both conflicts left a historical footprint on this country.

The first New Zealand Wars commemoration day will be held in Te Tai Tokerau-Northland next year. It will then rotate around the country from year to year to areas where battles and invasions took place.

“This allows people in other areas to do their own thing, not just on the 28th but their own battle days,” Mr Henare said.

The date chosen for the Raa Maumahara National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Land Wars coincides with the 1835 signing of the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand.

Some people are concerned the significance of the signing will eclipse the events of the New Zealand Wars, which were about the Maori struggle to keep their mana and land, said Mr Henare.

“We signed the Declaration of Independence and we ended up fighting to protect it.”

Choosing a commemoration date was never going to be easy, he said. His preference was December 3, the day the 1862 New Zealand Settlers Act was signed. The Act allowed for confiscation of land from any North Island tribe said to be “in rebellion against Her Majesty’s authority”.

The Raa Maumahara National Day of Commemoration was not just about the day, said Mr Henare.

“The challenge is to share the history with our people, Maori and Pakeha. The bigger challenge than the commemoration day is that these stories are captured in our education curriculum.

“Learning the history has to be a path to reconciliation. We can’t say there won’t be resentment. The commemoration is simply to inform the people of Aotearoa-New Zealand.

“Once it is in our psyche, the day will grow in importance. It is beautiful, brutal, illustrious, deeply moving history.”

THE New Zealand Wars commemoration date has been settled on as October 28.

Although no particular battle is observed on the day, regions such as Tairawhiti can decide on their own observances, says Tamaki Makarau Labour MP and New Zealand Wars committee chairman Peeni Henare.

Mr Henare visited Gisborne to open historian Vincent O’Malley’s address as part of commemorations for the 1865 siege of Waerenga a Hika.

Mr O’Malley is the author of the recently-released book The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800 to 2000.

The New Zealand Wars began in the South Island but were also fought in the North Island. Battle sites in this region included Matawhero, Ngatapa and Waerenga a Hika.

Reluctant to be drawn on the question of whether the wars or New Zealand’s World War 1 experience defined the nation, Mr Henare said he appreciated both conflicts left a historical footprint on this country.

The first New Zealand Wars commemoration day will be held in Te Tai Tokerau-Northland next year. It will then rotate around the country from year to year to areas where battles and invasions took place.

“This allows people in other areas to do their own thing, not just on the 28th but their own battle days,” Mr Henare said.

The date chosen for the Raa Maumahara National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Land Wars coincides with the 1835 signing of the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand.

Some people are concerned the significance of the signing will eclipse the events of the New Zealand Wars, which were about the Maori struggle to keep their mana and land, said Mr Henare.

“We signed the Declaration of Independence and we ended up fighting to protect it.”

Choosing a commemoration date was never going to be easy, he said. His preference was December 3, the day the 1862 New Zealand Settlers Act was signed. The Act allowed for confiscation of land from any North Island tribe said to be “in rebellion against Her Majesty’s authority”.

The Raa Maumahara National Day of Commemoration was not just about the day, said Mr Henare.

“The challenge is to share the history with our people, Maori and Pakeha. The bigger challenge than the commemoration day is that these stories are captured in our education curriculum.

“Learning the history has to be a path to reconciliation. We can’t say there won’t be resentment. The commemoration is simply to inform the people of Aotearoa-New Zealand.

“Once it is in our psyche, the day will grow in importance. It is beautiful, brutal, illustrious, deeply moving history.”

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