Saturday 28 October is Rā Maumahara, the first national commemoration of the New Zealand Wars. Many people have worked hard to get this national day of remembrance onto the calendar. He mihi kau atu ana tēnei ki a rātou.
This day is clearly significant in terms of what is being remembered – the brutality and devastation of the colonists’ attacks on tangata whenua, the dispossession and impoverishment of tangata whenua that resulted from these wars, and the enduring impacts of these events.
This first Rā Maumahara is also significant in that finally, 145 years since the end of the wars, we have a national day of remembrance. These were defining events in the history of Aotearoa. The wars and their impacts have been present and alive within Māori society for all those years. It’s long overdue that they become part of the consciousness of all New Zealanders. This day is an important contribution to building understanding of our histories and how they shape our present.
Along with local events in various parts of the country, valuable new resources have been produced to mark Rā Maumahara. RNZ has just launched Stories of Ruapekapeka which “captures Māori and Pākehā views on Northland’s most infamous armed conflict.” Produced by Mihingarangi Forbes, the Stories of Ruapekapeka webpage hosts a documentary and a number of other video pieces, animations and virtual reality battle scenes.
Te Papa Tongarewa, has a new exhibition opening tomorrow. Rā Maumahara: New Zealand Wars , “explores the most explosive and sustained period of conflict in the New Zealand Wars: 1860–72.”
Scoop Review of Books is helping to mark Rā Maumahara by providing blogs on books about the wars and the Māoriland Film Festival Hub is screening The New Zealand Wars by James Belich along with hosting inspiring speakers.
So take time this Saturday to engage with the significance of this day – to look at these new resources, to listen to accounts on Māori media, to learn from, and to share with others. Take time too to remember that 28 October is Independence Day in Aotearoa, more on that in our next post …