28 Oct 2021

Aotearoa commemorates Te Pūtake o Te Riri

8:32 pm on 28 October 2021

Today is Te Pūtake o Te Riri, He Rā Maumahara, the national day of commemoration for the New Zealand wars.

Tino Rangatiratanga flag

Tino Rangatiratanga flag. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The government announced in 2016, that 28 October would be the national day of commemoration after a petition from Ōtorohanga College students was presented to the government in 2015.

The petition also called for NZ History to be taught in schools, which the government also agreed to in September 2019 and would be put in place by 2022.

Historian Dr Vincent O'Malley said the date was chosen because of the importance of the day in Māori history.

"It is also the anniversay of He Whakaputanga, the signing of the declaration of indepence of the united tribes in 1835," O'Malley said.

"In deciding the date, it was agreed it shouldn't be an anniversary of any particular battle becuase the day is intended to commerate all of the New Zealand wars. Rather than a particular district or that effected a particular iwi.

"So in that way, it's a reminder of the tino rangatiratanga that iwi and hapu fought for, along with defending their lands during the course of the NZ wars," he said.

O'Malley said people all over Aotearoa can commemorate the day by making the effort to learn about the NZ wars.

"Some people dont even know that they are in areas where these fights took place. Some people might drive past places daily or even drive through old pa sites and not even know what it is," he said.

"Having a sense of what happened in those places is important."

O'Malley said the day itself has been effected by Covid-19 over the last couple years. This year there was meant to be public commemorations in Waikato, but have been cancelled due to Covid-19.

Instead, an one hour special will be broadcast on Māori TV at 11am and 7pm and will feature mihimihi from the Governor General and Prime Minister.

O'Malley hopes the day will become similar to Anzac Day.

"It's a solemn day of what happened in Aotearoa. We need to remember the lives lost in these conflicts and the consequences of the wars for society today. In some ways we live with the consequences of the conflicts even now."

"It's a history that resonates into the present today," he said.

O'Malley has written extensively about the NZ Wars. His first book was The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000 which was published in 2016.

Followed in 2019 by The New Zealand Wars/Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa.

His next book called Voices from the New Zealand Wars/He Reo nō ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa will be released in the coming weeks. It covers all the wars but uses extracts from Māori and pakeha who either took part in or witnessed the wars.

"It's a different way of telling the story. I got a real range of human responses from these terrible things happening. It was difficult to do as I had to draw on written sources, from a range of places. Some unpublished, like private manuscripts from families. So this book will be the first time some of these perspectives are being made available to the public."

To learn more, you can find the NZ wars collection hosted by Mihingarangi Forbes - created by the Aotearoa Media Collective and Great Southern Television on the RNZ website.

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