We need to recognise black part of history, learn from it

EDITORIAL

News that the Government is moving towards a commemoration of the Land Wars is especially important and welcome in a district like this with its sad history of 19th century conflict.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English has announced there will be a commemoration of the Land Wars but he added it would not be a public holiday and would be locally-driven rather than imposed on districts by central government — although they would put some resources into it.

Prime Minister John Key seemed more reluctant, saying more thought was needed and a final decision might be some time off.

One excellent suggestion came from leader of the Opposition Andrew Little, who said a holiday could replace the present provincial holidays — which makes real sense since those provinces no longer exist.

The issue has arisen in the same week King Tuheitia Paki has called for Maori sovereignty to be established by 2025, although he did not add any details of what that would actually comprise.

The New Zealand Wars, as historian James Belich more accurately described them, are a sombre and tragic part of New Zealand’s history that were virtually unknown to earlier generations — to whom they were referred to as the Maori Wars, as though one side was to blame.

This district has just marked the 150th anniversary of the Waerenga-a-Hika siege and in two years will reach that mark for the attack at Matawhero by Te Kooti and his followers. It is unfair to simply describe it as a massacre, because of the background — something acknowledged in 1883 when Te Kooti was formally pardoned. Whatever it is called, it was certainly devastating with the loss of 51 lives.

In a 2013 decision, the Waitangi Tribunal said the East Coast wars resulted in proportionately more Maori lives lost than in any other district in all the New Zealand Wars.

Recognising a black part of the district’s history and using it as a way to promote biculturalism, understanding and the path to a shared future will be challenging but has to be achieved.

News that the Government is moving towards a commemoration of the Land Wars is especially important and welcome in a district like this with its sad history of 19th century conflict.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English has announced there will be a commemoration of the Land Wars but he added it would not be a public holiday and would be locally-driven rather than imposed on districts by central government — although they would put some resources into it.

Prime Minister John Key seemed more reluctant, saying more thought was needed and a final decision might be some time off.

One excellent suggestion came from leader of the Opposition Andrew Little, who said a holiday could replace the present provincial holidays — which makes real sense since those provinces no longer exist.

The issue has arisen in the same week King Tuheitia Paki has called for Maori sovereignty to be established by 2025, although he did not add any details of what that would actually comprise.

The New Zealand Wars, as historian James Belich more accurately described them, are a sombre and tragic part of New Zealand’s history that were virtually unknown to earlier generations — to whom they were referred to as the Maori Wars, as though one side was to blame.

This district has just marked the 150th anniversary of the Waerenga-a-Hika siege and in two years will reach that mark for the attack at Matawhero by Te Kooti and his followers. It is unfair to simply describe it as a massacre, because of the background — something acknowledged in 1883 when Te Kooti was formally pardoned. Whatever it is called, it was certainly devastating with the loss of 51 lives.

In a 2013 decision, the Waitangi Tribunal said the East Coast wars resulted in proportionately more Maori lives lost than in any other district in all the New Zealand Wars.

Recognising a black part of the district’s history and using it as a way to promote biculturalism, understanding and the path to a shared future will be challenging but has to be achieved.

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Lloyd Gretton - 3 years ago
"One side was to blame." Presumably the Pakeha. You don't suppose threatening to kill everyone in Auckland, unprovoked attacks on settlers and their children resulting in many deaths, flagrant disregard of the Waitangi Treaty had anything to do with it. These actions pre-dated Governor Grey's war mobilisation.

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