Sunday, 26 April 2015

Remembering the New Zealand Wars

Over the past week or so I have appeared in print and on TV to argue the case for greater recognition of the New Zealand Wars. Last Sunday I did a live interview on the Q+A programme. Here is the link to the full interview. Here is the story that ran on the TVNZ website ('Let's Not Be Selective About the History We Remember'). And here is the online version of the opinion piece ('Historical Amnesia over New Zealand's Own Wars') that was published in the Dominion Post and the Press a few days later. Bryce Edwards also referred to these in his Political Roundup for the New Zealand Herald ('Anzac Fatigue and Dissent').

My comments generated quite a bit of debate and discussion. It is great to see a conversation happening about these issues. One point I wanted to pick up on was the suggestion that I should have raised these concerns earlier. In fact, I did so, expressing reservations about the impending Waikato War sesquicentennary nearly two years ago. See 'Waikato - The Forgotten War Anniversary'.

Meremere Pā


That was followed up with multiple public talks and lectures where I also addressed this topic. See 'The Historiography of Orakau', my talk at the National Library in March 2014. Also 'Commemorating: History and Anniversaries', a symposium held in Palmerston North in May 2014. And then there was my J D Stout Lecture in September 2014, besides my book, Beyond the Imperial Frontier: The Contest for Colonial New Zealand published by Bridget Williams Books in the same month.


Others have also addressed these issues. For recent contributions to the debate, see Morgan Godfery's 'Why Do We Ignore the New Zealand Wars?' and Scott Hamilton's 'From Gallipoli to Drury'.

Alison McCulloch has also considered these matters more than once. See 'Lest We Remember' along with 'Journalism, History and Forgetting' and her interview with Kim Hill from April 2014.

Meanwhile, iwi have been raising the same issues for years. See, for example, Tom Roa's comments here.

In summary, the need to give greater recognition to the New Zealand Wars is a matter that has been raised many times, by many different people, and over many years (much earlier Māori concerns on how the Waikato War was remembered is the focus of a forthcoming article of mine). And it seems to me a no-brainer that we should protect and promote sites of major historical significance scattered across our land. As I noted in my Q+A interview some of these are not even sign-posted. We can and should do better than that as a nation.