The Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon has encouraged the Prime Minister to mark the New Zealand Land Wars with a public holiday.
‘I was excited at the prospect that New Zealand may hold public holidays as a response to COVID and believes it’s the right time to mark these historical events. The New Zealand Wars are not currently marked with an official public holiday.’
‘I’ve emailed the Prime Minister to explain that our national and local histories are paramount. Understanding the history creates a better-informed citizenry,’ says Meng Foon.
‘I have lobbied Ministers to set in place legislation to so that the New Zealand Wars move from a local event to a public holiday. This is what iwi have long called for.’
A ‘New Zealand Wars’ public holiday will serve as a memorial day just as ANZAC Day is, to pause and remember the events of the 1800s including the many battles where Māori lives were lost, were incarcerated, and land confiscated.
‘I believe strongly in the need to teach our children to have a sound understanding of the past, and prepare them for a future built on the confidence this knowledge will bring about their history.’
The public holiday will complement increased teaching of our history in schools from 2022 including first encounters, early colonial history, the Treaty of Waitangi, colonisation, immigration, and the New Zealand Wars.
Background to Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa / The New Zealand Land Wars
Armed conflict between Māori and the Crown began in 1845 in Te Tai Tokerau and continued until the 1870s with Te Kooti, before moving to a time of alienation through the Native Land Court that was established in 1865.
Te Pūtake o te Riri is currently set aside on 28 October each year to mark the Wars, established under the then Minister of Māori Affairs Te Ururoa Flavell. As partners with the Ministry of Cultural and Heritage, iwi share the task of hosting these annual land war events and wānanga. This year, Waikato iwi are hosting Te Pūtake o te Riri.
Of the existing 10 public holidays, Waitangi Day is the only public holiday which includes a focus on the relationship with Māori.