Students from Otorohanga have been pressing the case for such a commemorative day, especially Rhiannon Magee, Tai Jones and Leah Bell who organised a Land Wars petition signed by 13,000 people.
Here is an article covering their recent submissions to Parliament – Students at Parliament. They are to be commended for this awesome initiative, which we wholeheartedly support. See here also for details of submissions, which close in late April – submissions sought.
Perhaps the time has come, in this post-Treaty settlement era, to commemorate such events, which James Belich once likened to ‘a nightmare’ which, like children, we hasten to forget.
And what day should it be? We suggest that 17 March would be ideal – 17 March 1860 was the day that the British Army opened fire on Te Ātiawa who were defending Te Kohia Pā, at Waitara.
This action by the British Army began what Belich calls ‘the great civil wars of the 1860s’. You can read about this engagement here – British attack Waitara.
However, appropriate days are many – see this link Dates of the Wars for some examples of important dates. The Māori King is contemplating calling all interested parties together, to settle on an appropriate day. This discussions will be interesting, for sure, not least for the names we use ..
New Zealand Wars Day, Land Wars Day, or Māori Wars Day – does it matter what names we use? Does it matter what we call the wars themselves – which name is the most appropriate?
Read here for more media reaction – Land Wars Day?
What’s in a name? .. see here for a discussion on what happens when we seek to give names to history .. Giving Names to History.
Finally, should the New Zealand Land Wars be taught at schools as a compulsory topic .. ? We think it should but it’s unlikely to happen. Ministry of Education officials and the Minister have poured cold water on the idea – see here – Education Officials Coy On Wars.
Green MP Marama Davidson has put the issue simply – teaching our children about the wars will act as a strong defence against racism – read her comments here – Defence against racism.