Waitara Māori say it’s hard to commemorate the New Zealand Land Wars when they’re still fighting for their land.
In 1860, the first shot fired in the Taranaki Land Wars was in Waitara between the Crown and Māori.
157 years later, Waitara Māori believe they’re still in the same war.
“It’s pretty hard to contemplate a commemoration of the land wars when it hasn’t been resolved. It hasn’t been resolved for us here in Waitara,” says Ōtaraua Hapū Chairman Rawiri Doorbar.
His comments come after the first commeoration of the New Zealand Land Wars on 28 October.
Ōtaraua, Te Atiawa iwi and Manukorihi hapū are embroiled in a bitter land dispute with the New Plymouth District Council over the leasing of Waitara through the controversial Waitara Lands Bill.
Doorbar says because Māori history has never been taught in schools, it’s caused problems for race relations between Māori and Pākehā.
“The history of what’s happening here has not been taught anywhere,” says Doorbar, “and why not? Without that proper history being taught there’s a stupidity in our country. A stupidity that exists about our history.”
The Ministry of Education says Māori history is an optional subject for all schools but few schools teach it. This year the Ministry has allocated nearly $2 million dollars of funding for Māori history resources. “It should be in all schools. We should be proud of our history,” says Doorbar.