NZ Wars: Stories of Tainui is the next compelling chapter in RNZ’s award-winning documentary project on the New Zealand Wars, released today on rnz.co.nz and accompanied by a three episode podcast presenting a wider look at the events leading up to the war, the motivations of the people who fought, and its impact on history.
The 1863 invasion of the Waikato was the defining conflict of New Zealand, reinforcing the Crown’s power, entrenching one of Aotearoa’s oldest political institutions (the Kiingitanga) and resulting in land confiscations that continue to shape New Zealand today. Once again, Great Southern Television and Aotearoa Media Collective bring this important chapter of our nation’s story to life, teaming up with RNZ to create a digital documentary project that vividly illustrates how these battles looked, sounded and felt. Presented by Mihingaarangi Forbes and featuring Dr Vincent O’Malley alongside esteemed iwi historians Rahui Papa, Brad Totorewa, Tom Roa, Mamae Takerei and Kaawhia Muraahi, NZ Wars: Stories of Tainui examines the events that continue to influence contemporary Aotearoa. Forbes says ”the Waikato wars or as Waikato historian Mamae Takerei describes it ‘the war on the people of Waikato’ changed the relationship between Paakehaa and Maaori forever” Centred on three key encounters; Rangiriri, Rangiaaowhia and Ooraakau NZ Wars: Stories of Tainui is a bicultural retelling of “the biggest and most important campaign of the 19th century New Zealand Wars”.
The documentary recaps the events which led to the invasion of the Waikato and examines its consequences for future generations of New Zealanders. Producer Mahanga Pihama says the documentary features “Heartbreaking stories that are told by the descendants that will forever remain a part of New Zealand’s history” Using dramatic reenactments, interviews, historical records, haka and digital storytelling the project brings to life the first-hand narratives of tangata whenua and tangata tiriti which have been passed down through the generations.
In 2020 the last instalment of the series NZ Wars: Stories of Waitara won Te Maangai Paaho Best Maaori Programme at the NZTV Awards. Executive Producer Annabelle Lee-Mather says “this documentary is a must watch for all New Zealanders who want to understand the roots of inequity in Aotearoa and why the fight for treaty justice continues today”.
Alongside the documentary is a podcast presented by Mihingaraangi Forbes and William Ray, with three long-form episodes diving deeper into the politics which surrounded the conflict and the people who played central roles. The podcast also discusses some of the historical debates around contentious points, particularly the Battle of Rangiriri and the attack on Rangiaaowhia. There's also some discussion about the role koorero tuku iho (oral history) plays in the story of Waikato, and how understanding of New Zealand history is changing, particularly as it relates to the NZ Wars. The podcast episodes are released today, tomorrow and Sunday.
The documentary, extended interviews and podcast are available now at rnz.co.nz, with the podcast also available on all the usual podcast platforms.
Made with the support of NZ On Air.