National Day to Commemorate New Zealand Wars Supported
Church Leader Supports Call for National Day to Commemorate New Zealand Wars
The Moderator of the Māori Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Rev Wayne Te Kaawa, has supported calls by Tainui and Kingitanga leader Tukuroirangi Morgan to have an annual national day to commemorate the New Zealand Wars.
The Moderator says, “This is no longer a Māori versus Pākehā issue as many New Zealanders had members of their family fighting on both sides. Today many Iwi have settled their outstanding claims with the Crown and a national day would also help the country grow in maturity by recognising its past”.
The Moderator has a personal link to the New Zealand Wars through the Battle of Kaokaoroa in Matata which took place on 28 April 1864, the day before the Battle at Pukehinahina.
“My ancestors fought on the side of the Crown as ‘Queenites’ believing that this would prevent their land from confiscation. It didn’t work as after the battle their lands were confiscated anyway.
“My other personal link is from the Police occupation of Maungapohatu in April 1916. My grandmother was married to Toko, son of Rua Kenana, who Police shot and killed during the occupation. Toko is recorded by some historians as the last person to die in the New Zealand Wars. I think I owe it my grandmother and her late husband to support this cause.”
The Moderator says that he will be writing to all New Zealand Church leaders asking them to support the call for a national day as part of the 2014 bicentenary of the Christian Gospel in New Zealand.
“We tend to forget that Churches were the other partner in the shaping of this country,” the Moderator says.
“What better way to celebrate the bicentenary of the coming of Christianity to this country than by supporting calls for a national day to commemorate the New Zealand Wars? Christianity arrived in this country, especially for Māori, at the invitation of Māori. During the Wars many Churches abandoned their Māori missions with some aligning with the Colonial forces. What better gift to give our country in its bicentenary year then a national day?”
The Moderator also supports calls to return the battle sites of Rangiriri, Rangiaowhia, Orakau and Pukehinahina to Māori ownership, with a fund to support their preservation and development.
“I have attended the commemorations at Orakau and Pukehinahina and they are wonderful events attended by both Māori and Pākehā,” he says.
“Yesterday, while driving to Pukehinahina in Tauranga, I passed Kaokaoroa where my ancestors fought 150 years ago and are buried today. It was a pretty emotional journey. In our own ways we all share the New Zealand story, our history; we should have a national commemorative day.”