28 Oct 2017

NZ wars about 'coming to terms with our past'

6:03 pm on 28 October 2017

Commemoration ceremonies around the country have been held for the first day of remembrance (Rā Maumahara) for the New Zealand wars.

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Shane Te Ruki at a commemoration in Te Awamutu for the Battle of Ōrākau Pā. Photo: RNZ / John Boynton

In Te Awamutu, local hapū, schools and community gathered near the site of one of the defining New Zealand wars, the Battle of Ōrākau Pā.

Light rain dusted around the 100 people who gathered outside St John's Anglican Church in Te Awamutu for a civic commemoration of the New Zealand Wars.

A few kilometres away lies the battle site of Ōrākau Pā, where an estimated 160 Māori and 17 British soldiers were killed.

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About 100 people gathered outside St John's Anglican Church in Te Awamutu for a civic commemoration of the New Zealand Wars. Photo: RNZ / John Boynton

Reverend Murray Olson opened the ceremony and spoke of the importance of the wars to both the local community and New Zealand.

School students from the Waipa district laid wreaths at two memorials, and the ceremony closed with a flurry of waiata from local hapū.

Kaawhia Te Muraahi is a member of the National Panel for NZ Wars Commemorations and president of the Ōrākau Pā Heritage Society.

Mr Te Muraahi said he was pleased to see the community come to the event, and he expected commemorations to grow in the next few years.

"It stands for acknowledging our past, coming to terms with our past, respecting our past and more importantly - building on the past for a more positive, more equitable, more just and more fair community."

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