Tears at service
District commemorates NZ Wars
As Sunday’s Ra¯ Maumahara National Day of Commemoration service at Rewi Maniapoto Memorial came to a close the first drops of rain began to fall.
“Tears are starting to fall,” commented Rovina Maniapoto-Anderson.
The service was attended by about 250 people and was jointly hosted Nga¯ Iwi To¯pu o Waipa¯ and Waipa¯ District Council.
October 28 coincides with the date in 1835 of the signing of the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand (He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tirene) and was set as Ra¯ Maumahara National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Land Wars and nationally recognised for the first time last year.
Waipa¯ District Council was the only council in New Zealand to support a public event, continuing that commitment with this year’s service.
Armed conflict was rife in Waipa¯ , with local battle sites including Rangiaowhia, Waiari, Paterangi, Hairini and the Battle of O¯ ra¯kau.
There were welcomes, prayers, song, speeches and laying of wreaths.
Waipa¯ District Council iwi relations adviser Shane Te Ruki was master of ceremonies.
He said the service acknowledged the rights and wrongs of the past as well as the people who stood on the land.
“The clashes and eruptions of the New Zealand Wars helped shape modern day society.
“Consider this day for what it is, a day for commemoration, but also a day for smiles.
“It’s a day to consider just how far we have come,” said Shane.
Prayers and hymns were led by Kingi Tu¯ heitia’s chaplain Reverend Ngira Simmonds and Archbishop Sir David Moxon.
They also blessed six wreaths laid on the memorial to conclude the service.
Shane Te Ruki said it was traditional to start any Ma¯ori welcome or event with the voices of women, and in keeping with tradition invited Waipa¯ District Councillor Susan O’Regan as first guest speaker.
Susan said war commemorations usually focused on heroism and bravery, loss of life and bloodshed.
She said attention also needed to be given to everyday people whose lives were changed and how futures were affected.
Susan took a woman’s perspective of the toll of the New Zealand Wars, looking close to home to imagine what Ma¯ ori women would have had to cope with during and after the conflicts in Waipa¯ .
“I think about the sorrow of a proud people displaced and deprived institutionally for over 100 years,” she said.
Susan said the commemoration was a time to think how far New Zealand had come as a nation in terms of mutual respect and diversity,
But, she said it was also a time to think about how much further there was to go.
“We have to accept our history has been bleached and show a willingness and desire to learn about our bloody past.
“Without understanding and empathy, effective reconciliation is not possible,” said Susan.
Second speaker was Kawhia Paul Tai, representing the national commemorative organising body Te Pu¯ take o Te Riwi.
Kawhia gave thanks to the individuals and groups who had brought about the national day of commemoration for the New Zealand Land Wars and organised the commemorative events.
He singled out a number of people, including former O¯ torohanga College students Leah Bell and Waimarama Anderson, who after attending the 150-year commemoration of the invasion of Rangiaowhia and Battle of O¯ ra¯ kau, took a petition to Parliament which led to the national day.
Ra¯ Maumahara National Day of Commemoration was designed to put an end to what’s called an uncomfortable silence around the Land Wars.
Kawhia also spoke about the importance of Ra¯ Maumahara National Day of Commemoration moving forward into the future — of sharing the commemoration service with different regions and with the view of bringing it back to O¯ ra¯kau, where the seed was planted, in 2020.
Archbishop Sir David Moxon and Reverend Ngira Simmonds bless wreaths born by students from O¯ torohanga College and Te Wharekura o Maniapoto.
Left: Wreath laid on behalf of Te Awamutu Museum by O¯ torohanga College student Matauri Waretini. Below: Whaiko¯ rero from Harold Maniapoto.
Speaker Susan O’Regan.
MC Shane Te Ruki.
Speaker Kawhia Paul Tai.