Minister considers NZ Wars heritage trail

9:56 am on 29 March 2018

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta wants to look at developing a heritage trail for the New Zealand Wars battle sites around the country.

Nanaia Mahuta

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Minister of Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta said it would be a way to help educate New Zealanders and tourists about our country's past, alongside the New Zealand Wars national day of commemoration.

Te Pūtake o te Riri, the first national commemoration of the wars and conflict in Aotearoa New Zealand, were held in the Bay of Islands only a few weeks ago.

It was hailed as a great success by those who attended, who were treated to an up close and personal iwi account of the battles fought in Northland.

It's the sharing and examination of these historical accounts that drove a small working group and students from Otorohanga College to push and petition for a national day of remembrance for the New Zealand Wars.

Ms Mahuta said that would only be enhanced by better education of the wars and conflicts.

"I'm looking to reset the way in which we think about a day of remembrance for the NZ Wars and the role of the committee, but more importantly broadening its context, because we need local content through the curriculum delivery and there is opportunities in schools to do that," Ms Mahuta said.

She also wanted to examine the idea of having a heritage trail.

"What I'd like to see is something like a heritage trail, because there are opportunities to create a broader narrative of the context of the wars that occurred.

"It's done in Europe and it could be done in NZ, and it could be something that could really platform local history."

Te Pūtake o te Riri National Advisory Panel member Kaawhia Te Muraahi overseas the $4 million fund for the national commemorations, and welcomed the idea of a heritage trail.

He said battle sites around the country needed some TLC.

"We have technical needs, feasibility needs, to help our committees not only look at commemoration events but how can we turn this scared place into something that is not just an empty paddock," he said.

"People only go there once a year, what a waste of time and a waste of effort. Our view is to turn this place into something, a place that can speak to people."

No timeframes have yet been set for any rollout of a heritage trail.

You can hear more about Shannon Haunui-Thompson's investigation into the first national commemorations of the New Zealand Wars and the prospect of a National Day on Insight just after the 8am news on Sunday.

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