Waipā set for New Zealand land war commemorations
The anguish of the New Zealand Land Wars will be remembered over Labour weekend with commemorations taking place in Waipā.
For the last two years Waipā District Council and Ngā Iwi Tōpū O Waipā have acknowledged the New Zealand Land Wars with services and wreath laying at significant locations in the district.
This year Waipa District Council’s director of museums Anne Blyth said Council will take a different approach to mark the event, with the museum’s ‘Resistance, Resilience, Remembrance’ exhibition opening, and the new Te Ara Wai gallery.
The Te Ara Wai Gallery is a precursor to the Te Ara Wai Journeys product that will launch in December.
Journeys will take visitors on pathways through natural landscapes, battle sites and early settlements in Waipā that formed the community and helped shape Aotearoa New Zealand as a nation.
Enriching visitors’ experience on-location, Journeys shares the stories of the Waipā district, encompassing the region’s people, their struggles, innovation and resilience; and the battles for land and sovereignty during the New Zealand Land Wars.
“With advice and discussions with mana whenua, it was decided that a formal service this year was not appropriate due to the significant commemoration that will be held in Taranaki that most dignitaries and iwi representatives are attending,” said Blyth.
“It’s still important to us that our community can acknowledge the New Zealand Land Wars and reflect on how our lives were fundamentally changed. People lost their lives, land and their way of life.”
She says the community is becoming more aware of what took place, but there is still a lot of work to do to educate New Zealanders about the past, how that defined who we are today, and how that shapes our future.
On 28 October, five wreaths will be laid by Council across the district. The community are also invited to lay their own wreaths at St John Te Awamutu, Rewi Maniapoto Memorial, Kihikihi, Rangiaowhia and O-Rākau.
Signage will also be placed throughout the district to promote the Te Awamutu Museum exhibition and flags will be flying in Te Awamutu and Cambridge from 23 October.
This year’s national commemoration in Taranaki will focus on battle sites around Waitara, in particular Te Kōhia pā where the first shots of the New Zealand Land Wars were fired.
National commemorations were held for the first time last year in Kororāreka. They were established as a national initiative to commemorate the New Zealand Land Wars, and events are held around New Zealand to increase awareness and understanding of the history of New Zealand and the conflict that took place.
Waipā will host the national commemoration in 2020, and plans are now getting underway for the three-day national event.