National day to remember the New Zealand Wars to start in 2017
A national day marking the 19th-century New Zealand Wars has been set: October 28.
It is same day as the signing of the 1835 Declaration of Independence.
The first commemoration day, in 2017, will be hosted by the Te Taitokerau tribes in Northland.
After that, the commemorations will move from year to year to recognise battle sites around the country.
Six years have passed since Otorohanga College students Leah Bell and Waimarama Anderson mooted the idea of a day to recognise the wars after a school trip to the Orakau battle site near Kihikihi, Waikato.
They started a petition calling for a commemoration day, presented 12,000 signatures to Parliament in December 2015 and have finally been rewarded for their effort.
“Each battle has its own story to tell and a national commemoration day will help in sharing that story with the whole country,” they said.
The aim of the petition was to raise awareness of the Land Wars and to introduce the history in the national curriculum.
In August, at the annual Koroneihana celebration for Maori King Tuheitia at Ngaruawahia, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English announced government support of the commemoration day.
A month later, in September, about 30 tribal representative held a hui at Mangatoatoa Marae, south of Kihikihi, to plan where and when the commemoration day would be held.
Chairman of Waikato-Tainui tribal executive Te Arataura, Rahui Papa, said the resolution was wonderful.
Papa said Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell were instrumental in getting the matter on the government agenda.
"There are still some aspirations to achieve, including putting it into the New Zealand curriculum and perhaps stronger recognition like a statutory commemoration day," Papa said.
"The discussions will continue. We must face up to the happenings of the past to prepare all of Aotearoa-New Zealand for a brighter, more unified future."
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