Taranaki leaders happy with Maori land wars national public holiday

New Plmyouth mayor Andrew Judd thinks it's time for New Zealand to acknowledge its bloody past.
Robert Charles/FAIRFAX NZ

New Plmyouth mayor Andrew Judd thinks it's time for New Zealand to acknowledge its bloody past.

Taranaki iwi have welcomed news a day will be set aside to commemorate the New Zealand Wars.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English announced on Friday it was time a national day was established to remember the country's bloody history but an exact date is yet to be finalised.

Parihaka resident Dr Ruakere Hond, of Taranaki, Ngati Ruanui, and Te Atiawa, said the national day was especially relevant for the region given the wars started here.

Debbie Ngawera-Packer said she's proud it's the younger generation leading the charge for recognition of the Maori land wars.
Robert Charles

Debbie Ngawera-Packer said she's proud it's the younger generation leading the charge for recognition of the Maori land wars.

"I don't know of any other place that had a background such as ours, in relation to the wars.

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"It's significant for Taranaki. It impacted so heavily here."

Hond said he supported the concept of a commemorative day but hoped that would not detract from the work he'd been involved with to have a Parihaka Day recognised as well.

He said commemorative days often focused on "body counts" whereas a Parihaka Day would bring a "balance" to this because it was focused on peaceful reconciliation. 

"I hope a Parihaka Day is able to be put on the table and seriously considered," he said.

"I see them as complimentary."

Ngāti Ruanui chief executive Debbie Ngarewa-Packer also welcomed the news and said it was important the country recognised all parts of its history.

"That includes the good the bad and the ugly," she said. 

Ngarewa-Packer said while it was iwi who campaigned for the cause and took it to parliament, full credit lay with students at Otorohanga School in the Waikato.

"Students there had the idea and set the ball in motion with iwi," she said. 

"I think it speaks volumes about the next generation that it's them who are the driving force behind this."

She said while the road to recognition of the wars had been long, it hadn't been fraught with difficulty.

"I think this nation is at a time where it is ready to acknowledge its past," she said. 

"Its not really been spoken about or recognised openly before, we study other nation's history but don't look at our own."

Ngarewa-Packer said she didn't think it was important what day it was.

"The point is to celebrate and remember what happened everywhere in the country, not just in Taranaki," she said. 

"It's a chance to learn about our own region's past and also about what happened in other areas."

Ngarewa-Packer said the Maori land wars was something she would like to see made compulsory in schools despite the Ministry of Education shunning a request to include it in the national schooling curriculum in March this year. 

"When I was at school we learned about Victorian England and almost every country other than our own."

"I had to learn about my past, our country's past, on my steam."

New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd said he hoped the public holiday would lead to more acceptance around what had happened.

"You can't keep our actions of our past under the carpet," he said.

He said New Zealand's role in wars overseas was well documented and known, but that was not the case when it came to wars fought locally.

"If you don't know where you've come from, how are going to know where you're heading and how are you going to make sure you don't repeat those mistakes?" he said.

 

 - Stuff

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