26 May 2015

Commemorations 'help nations grow'

7:03 am on 26 May 2015

A Tauranga historian is backing one of Māoridom's leaders in calling for a commemorative day to recognise the battles that helped shape Aotearoa.

Powhiri for the official party at the site of the Battle of Orakau.

A powhiri last year at the site of the Battle of Orakau, marking the 150th anniversary. Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Last year during the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Ōrākau, Otorohanga High School launched a petition calling for the Government to establish a commemorative day for the country to remember local civil battles.

Waikato-Tainui leader Tukoroirangi Morgan supported them.

Māori historian Awanuiarangi Black said Aotearoa needed to acknowledge what had happened on its own soil and mark its battles.

Mr Black said a commemorative day was about elevating the importance of the battles at places like Pukehinahina and Ōrākau.

He said most developed nations had created ways to commemorate their significant civil wars and New Zealand should do the same.

The Prime Minister's office said John Key had not ruled out the possibility of a holiday to mark the New Zealand Wars, but it was not under active consideration.

Last year Mr Key said if National was still in Government after the September elections, his party would consider it.

Mr Black said a commemorative day would elevate the importance of battles in places like Parihaka, Gate Pa, Pukehinahina and Ōrākau.

"I think it shows the maturity of a nation to properly recognise and face its own history because it helps nations to grow."