The shared nineteenth-century histories of Aotearoa-New Zealand have come to life with the official opening of one of the most culturally significant sites of the 1860s New Zealand Wars.
The Government-financed rebuild of the Rangiriri Pa Trenches complex in Waikato is the first project completed from a special regional economic development fund for sites of cultural significance.
“Rangiriri Pa is one of four former battle sites to receive government investment from a $20 million programme established through the Provincial Growth Fund, administered by Kānoa,” said Regional Economic Development Minister, Stuart Nash.
“The investment in new infrastructure at the Rangiriri Pa site supports the preservation and development of historic sites of national importance. Other historic sites include Ruapekapeka Pā and Ōhaeawai, in Te Tai Tokerau, and Parihaka in Taranaki.
“The support delivers on a Government commitment to make New Zealand history part of the curriculum in all schools and kura in 2023. The Rangiriri Pa trenches rebuild is a stunning example of this learning experience in practice.
“Understanding the big ideas about Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories, knowing the local contexts, and thinking critically about the past are the central elements of our new histories curriculum.
The remembrance of international wars is a focal point for the entire country, whether it is ANZAC Day in April, VE Day in May, or Armistice Day in November. The wars fought on our own soil are crucial episodes that shaped our entire nation, yet only in the past few years have they truly been marked as days of national significance, the Minister said.
Māori Development Minister, Willie Jackson said the $2.97 million investment supports Māori development and contributes to a deeper story of cultural significance and helps the Waikato region grow another unique high-value visitor destination.
“Rangiriri Pā is one of the most significant battle sites of the 1860s New Zealand Wars,” Minister Jackson said.
The battle which sparked the Waikato land war was waged here and it is considered the bloodiest combat during that conflict, costing both Māori and Pākehā dearly, he said.
“The wars shaped this country. The Rangiriri project provides an opportunity to learn the history of the injustices of Raupatu, or land confiscation, and the impact the conflict has had on our society and politics.”
“The project recreates approximately 120m long sections of the Rangiriri Battle Trenches along with supporting infrastructure like paths, fencing, and parking.
“It has created jobs during construction for local hapu Ngāti Naho, who will also provide tours and battle re-enactments in future. This will further strengthen the regional economic recovery through job and business opportunities,” said Mr Jackson.
The opening has been commemorated with battle re-enactments, kapa haka performances, a moko papa wananga, the attendance of Crown ministers and the Māori king, Tūheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII.
More information about the histories curriculum is available here:
Te Takanga o Te Wā – https://kauwhatareo.govt.nz/mi/kaupapa/te-takanga-o-te-wa
Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories – https://aotearoahistories.education.govt.nz