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Tai Tokerau Prepares to Commemorate NZ Wars

The first national event to commemorate the wars and conflicts in New Zealand - Te Pūtake o te

Riri, He Rā Maumahara in Te Tai Tokerau begins Friday 9th to Sunday 11th March at Kororāreka- Russell and Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. The commemorations will also take in the battle sites of

Ohaeawai and Ruapekapeka which saw British colonial forces and their Maori allies clash with the so-called Maori ‘rebels’ and this will set the scene for the three day commemorations that are open to the public.

A mass haka with hundreds expected to participate will ignite the powhiri for the first day on Friday 9 March in Waitangi which begins at 3pm. Mori Rapana coordinator of Te Tira Taua says “weekly practices across the region are well underway with hundreds expected to join us to prepare for the mass haka powhiri on the Friday”. Saturday will see marae-based activities at Te Tii Waitangi in the morning and tours after lunch to the battle sites of Ruapekapeka also known as Kawiti's 'Bat's Nest' and Ohaeawai along with key note speakers and panel discussions with experts and historians. Sunday begins with a dawn ceremony at Kororāreka with Government officials in attendance, a mass haka and a military and navy presence centred on Christ’s Church around which most of the battle raged on March 11, 1845.

The commemorations are open to the public and all New Zealanders as a time to remember the past, acknowledge the differences and foster spaces of liberation from a nation's pain. Progressing and supporting a journey of healing and reconciliation between two cultures.

This event follows on from Otorohanga College students who marched with hundreds to Parliament in 2015 with a petition of approximately 13,000 signatures calling for the government set aside a day to remember the 19th Century Land Wars. The NZ wars and conflicts although a major part of New Zealand history have largely been marginalised in school curriculums and New Zealand history until more recently. This event seeks to promote greater understanding of our nation’s history.

He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni, known in English as the Declaration of Independence of United Tribes of New Zealand signed in 1835 and the Maori text version of the Treaty of Waitangi, Te Tiriti o Waitangi signed in 1840 have long been focal points for the people Te Tai Tokerau.. The disregard of these earlier agreements by colonial forces and the Crown were seen as the catalyst for the Northern Wars and conflicts in Te Tai Tokerau.

Organising Committee Chair Aperahama Edwards says “we aim to provide a space that facilitates

dialogue of well balanced and accurate histories of those agreements and the subsequent conflicts and wars. To provide more insight into our nation's history for all peoples.”

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