The government is considering setting aside a special holiday every year to indoctrinate us about “land wars” grievances. If you don’t speak out it will probably be set up.
Over 12,000 people signed a petition launched by Otorohanga College pupils Waimarama Anderson and Leah Bell requesting “a national day to commemorate those who lost their lives in the land wars, both Maori and colonial”.
Submissions must be in by April 21.
The aims of the grievance day petition as recorded on Parliament’s website were:
1. To raise awareness of the land wars and how they relate to local history for schools and communities.
2. Introduce these local histories into the New Zealand Curriculum as a course of study for all New Zealanders
3. To memorialise those who gave their lives on New Zealand soil with a statutory day of recognition.
The initiative is presented as the spontaneous idea sparked by visiting the battle sites at Orakau and Rangiaowhia. However, the commemoration idea appeared in 2013, on the 150th anniversary of the start of armed conflict in Waikato.
At that time, Tom Roa of Waikato-Tainui compared the Waikato conflict with the Battle of Gettysburg that was fought during the American Civil War.
The only similarities appear in the date of the two conflicts.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought in Pennsylvania from July 1 to 3, 1863, and government troops crossed the Mangatawhiri River on July 12 of that year.
The scale of casualties is vastly different – around 51,000 were killed at Gettysburg while 781 were killed over one year in Waikato.
There is no Gettysburg Day statutory holiday in the United States.
A “land wars day” would be a misnomer.
The sporadic armed conflict that accompanied the settlement of New Zealand from 1840 should be regarded as tribal rebellions instead of land wars. Therefore we should use the term “tribal rebellions day”.
The three aims of a tribal rebellions day, as detailed above, indicate a strategy to teach a tribal rebellion history to schools and local communities. This is a problem because there are two contradictory views of our history, and a tribal rebellions day would almost certainly teach the griever version of history.
Recorded history appears in national archives, Acts of Parliament, newspapers, letters, diaries, and histories, all written since 1840. Griever history appeared after 1985, when compensation claims back to 18 40 were allowed, in oral testimony by claimants.
Our recorded history says:
1. The Treaty of Waitangi was a simple agreement through which chiefs ceded sovereignty in return for the rights as British subjects, which included the right to possess property and sell if they wished.
2. In little over 100 years, New Zealand went from the Stone Age to the Space Age by incorporating the accumulation of thousands of years of Western tradition.
3. Most chiefly land owners joined in the new economy by selling land and working for the new government and settler employers with a number of chiefs setting up business enterprises.
4. When some tribes in the North, Taranaki, Waikato, and the East Coast rebelled, government forces suppressed these rebellions using military force. Land was confiscated as a consequence
The revised history says:
1. The Treaty of Waitangi was to allow a British governor to keep control of British settlers only. The treaty is difficult to understand and the only people qualified to interpret it are members of the Waitangi Tribunal.
2. Colonisation has ruined a noble and peaceful Maori culture. Maori people should be helped to speak Maori and restore Maori culture to remove all trappings of colonisation.
3. Chiefs lost all their land through dubious means and are entitled to have it all given back.
4. Colonisers decimated the Maori population with war and disease and Maori continue to languish in deprivation.
Our recorded history remained uncontroversial until the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1985 sparked a new process of spinning history into a tale of woe to justify compensation.
According to early 20th century historian James Cowan, 2899 lost their lives in the armed conflicts in New Zealand during the 19th century, and this includes Maori on both sides as well as non-Maori.
This compares with over 18,000 killed in World War 1, 12,000 killed in World War 2, a total of 71 in the Boer Wars, and 36 in Vietnam.
A day to commemorate those who lost their lives in conflict is a memorial day and we already have a memorial day on April 25 each year.
When the Otorohanga College pupils visited the battle sites at Orakau and Rangiaowhia, both in Waikato, were they told about nearly 150 years of inquiries and compensation?
Were they told about the Waikato Maniopoto Maori Claims Settlement Act 1946 that provided for the establishment of the Tainui Maori Trust Board to receive ₤5000 a year in perpetuity plus a further ₤5000 and £1000 a year for 45 years?
Were they told of the 1995 WaikatoTainui settlement through which the claimant group received $170-million in cash and properties with long-term gold-plated leases to government departments?
Were they told that WaikatoTainui continue to receive 17 percent of all settlements reached since June 2012, as agreed in their 1995 settlement?
The tale of compensation balances the tale of woe. If they were not told of the compensation, they were only told part of the story.
Moreover, if claimants repeat the tale of woe and ignore the tale of compensation, does this mean the complaints remain unsettled and the $3.1-billion paid in financial redress was money down the drain?
Looking more closely at what story was our two college pupils told when they visited Rangiaowhia, near Te Awamutu, what were they actually told that launched their jihad for justice?
Claimants tell of “a massacre of innocents” at Rangiaowhia in which local Maori took refuge in St Paul’s church.
British soldiers surrounded the church, according to this version of events. Maori who attempted to flee were either shot or bayoneted. Soldiers set the church ablaze. Non-combatants consisting of mostly women and children were burned alive.
Unfortunately, St Paul’s church there remains standing. It was never burned. There was no massacre of women and children in that or any church.
There was a gunfight at Rangiaowhia involving soldiers and anti-government Maori holed up in a hut that caught fire after shots were fired through walls.
The death toll at Rangiaowhia includes Sergeant McHale who was an Australian soldier who tried to enter the hut, Colonel Nixon, three troopers, 10 rebels in or near the burnt hut, and two elsewhere.
A tribal rebellions day as recommended would trap us into a yearly repetition of lies and half-truths such as the bogus Rangiaowhia church massacre story. Such stories would be drummed into children at school to make them feel guilty.
New Zealand needs to embrace the future not go around in ever-decreasing circles while dwelling on the past. A second grievance day would be a further annual shackle to the past.
We have already had enough of the other grievance day, at Waitangi every year on February 6.
And to the Otorohanga College pupils pushing the grievance holiday petition, just make sure you find out all about the issue you are championing, and don’t let yourself be used.
If you think a tribal rebellions day is a bad idea, send in a submission against it. Submissions close on April 21, 2016, and may be made online HERE.