Dylan is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Opinion: About time land wars noted

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Crowds gathered in Pyes Pa to commemorate the 152nd anniversary of the Battle of Te Ranga in June. Des Tata (pictured) tells the story of the battle to people gathered at the Joyce Rd site. Photo/file
Crowds gathered in Pyes Pa to commemorate the 152nd anniversary of the Battle of Te Ranga in June. Des Tata (pictured) tells the story of the battle to people gathered at the Joyce Rd site. Photo/file

The announcement that a commemoration day for the New Zealand Land Wars is to be established has a half-hearted feel about it.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English this week confirmed that, after discussion with the Maori Party, a commemoration day would be approved. However, it will not be a public holiday and will be a locally driven event.

Prime Minister John Key, perhaps in a bid to allay business fears, has also stressed there would be no day off.

It's not before time. You have to question why we continue to celebrate Guy Fawkes but do not commemorate those who died in the Land Wars.

I agree that commemorations should be driven from a local level - the success of recent commemorations of two of the bloodiest battles to take place in Tauranga at Gate Pa (Pukehinahina) and Te Ranga show that there is an interest in this part of our history.

Perhaps, as Labour leader Andrew Little has suggested, regions could switch their provincial holiday for a day off to commemorate the wars and the ways these events shaped local history.

It would also perhaps encourage more schools to teach this part of our history. I learned very little about it at school. If it wasn't for a history teacher who had a deep interest in the subject, I doubt I would have learned anything about the Land Wars and associated land confiscations.

Hopefully the commemorations, in whatever form they eventually take, will encourage greater cultural understanding and that can only be a good thing.

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