Politicians to hear petition for Land Wars national day

Otorohanga College students presented a 13,000 signature petition to parliament in December, in support of a national ...
ROSS GIBLIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Otorohanga College students presented a 13,000 signature petition to parliament in December, in support of a national commemoration of the 19th century Land Wars.

Politicians will hear the case for an official day of recognition for the 19th century New Zealand Land Wars - from high school students.

More than 13,000 people have signed a petition in favour of a Land Wars Day, started by students from Otorohanga College. It will be presented to the Maori Affairs select committee on Wednesday.

Students Leah Bell,16, and Waimarama Anderson,17, would be facing the MPs, and felt "really positive" and "ready to submit".

Waimarama Anderson and Leah Bell will present to the Maori Affairs select committee.

Waimarama Anderson and Leah Bell will present to the Maori Affairs select committee.

What started as a school visit to the Orakau and Rangiaowhia battle sites sparked the movement to ensure more Kiwi kids learnt about their own history.

READ MORE: College students petition for a national holiday to recognise Land Wars

"The more we understand about our history, the better decisions we can make presently," Bell said.

"It's really important to us that we do this as we graduate into adulthood."

The petition was presented to the Maori King, and the students attended local festivals and commemorations to gain support.

"Some people have told us that they've been waiting for a long time for this to happen and they think it's really cool that youth are leading the petition," said Anderson.

Tourists were even in support of the day, said Bell, especially Americans "who are so extroverted with their historical remembrance".

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Which day it should fall on, and whether it should be a public holiday, were decisions for parliament to make, was the students' view.

The students had marched on parliament in December to present their request, supported by Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta, iwi leaders and fellow students.

"I think we can have more relevant public holidays than some of the ones we have now," Mahuta said.

"We could, for example, celebrate Matariki on the Queen's Birthday which is near the same time."

Mahuta said New Zealand's story and history should take precedent when remembering significant days for the country.

 - Stuff

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