A public holiday to remember our land wars?

Pupils of  Ōtorohanga  College have filled “a vacuum in our history curriculum” in respect of the New Zealand Land Wars of the 19th century.

They have proposed a national day of remembrance for the New Zealand Wars.

Last year College students gathered around 12,000 signatures in support of a New Zealand Wars Day and travelled from Waikato to Wellington to present it.

Maori party press release
Sadness that it has been left to pupils of Otorohanga College to fill “a vacuum in our history curriculum” in respect of the New Zealand Land Wars of the 19th century, has been expressed by the president of the Maori Party, Rangimarie Naida Glavish.

“It is a sad reflection on my own generation of kuia and kaumatua that it has been left to enterprising rangatahi at Otorohanga College to remind us of this vacuum in the history curriculum currently in our schools,” said Ms Glavish. She was referring to the petition organised by Otorohanga pupils seeking a public holiday to remember Maori and Pakeha who fell in the New Zealand Land Wars. Their petition was sparked by a visit to nearby war sites at Orakau and Rangiaowhia.

“While such a holiday may be a step too far, we certainly need to revisit the extent to which we teach our own New Zealand history in our schools. There are still too many New Zealanders, both long-established and more recent immigrants who remain unaware of how and why the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, and of events following that signing that created tensions between Maori and new settlers, ultimately leading late last century to the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal and processes for the settlement of proven grievances.

“As well, there are stories, many good, some not so good, about Maori dispersement through the motu following the first arrivals from Hawaiiki. Many of these stories gave rise to the Maori place names, given originally to commemorate events and people.

The inadequacy of attention in our curriculum to the absorbing history of our own land is a prime cause of unnecessary tensions between Maori and non-Maori. Those tensions will continue to fester until we promote fuller and deeper understanding of our own history.

“Accordingly, I will be asking our two Maori Party Members of Parliament, Hon Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox, themselves both former teachers to take up, as a matter of urgency, with the Minister of Education, Hon Hekia Parata, the need to fill this unfortunate and unnecessary vacuum in our curriculum,” Ms Glavish concluded.

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