Instead of just one day to commemorate the New Zealand Wars a Māori academic is calling for a national discussion on a range of regional "observance days".
These would not need to be limited to New Zealand's own bloody history, but could include national days of significance, like Suffragette Day, or Rainbow Warrior Day, to acknowledge New Zealand's role in the nuclear free movement.
Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi senior researcher Malcolm Mulholland said observance days, such as those that occur in the United States, would allow regions, and the country, to better acknowledge significant parts of our history.
"Only one of our public holidays, Waitangi Day, relates to our bicultural past," Mulholland said.
"And those holidays also largely relate to a religious past."
Allowing observance days would mean more diverse parts of New Zealand's history could be recognised and celebrated, without being weighed down by debates about costs of having a new public holiday, or replacing one, Mulholland said.
The idea comes from a book Mulholland edited, Te Pūtake o Te Riri: Wars and Conflicts in New Zealand, based on a collection of presentations by historians on how the New Zealand Wars have been, and should be, commemorated.
It follows a debate over the past few years about the place of the New Zealand Wars and how they should be commemorated.
The wars were fought from 1843 to 1872 between many Māori groups on one side, and on the other, British and New Zealand forces supported by other Māori allies.
A 12,000-strong petition to Parliament in 2015, organised by Otorohanga College students and staff calling for a national commemoration day, sparked widespread support and built on the efforts of iwi and community groups since 2010.
Raa Maumahara National Day of Commemoration was decided to take place each year on October 28, the date where the New Zealand Declaration of Independence was signed in 1835.
Mulholland said there were inherent problems in having only a solitary date to commemorate the New Zealand Wars, as each iwi commemorated different battles.
Such difficulties could be avoided by allowing each region to decide on an appropriate observance date.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment confirmed to the Herald doing so would require a change to the Holidays Act 2003.
But Mulholland said making that change would allow people to learn of the significant battles and events that happened in their regions, and mark them with events, without getting lost in a discussion about costs of making it a public holiday.
In Auckland such a day could mark the opening of Great South Road, June 18, acknowledging the role it played in the war in Waikato, but also in establishing Auckland as the commercial hub of New Zealand.
Other days could include a Pasifika Day, run during the Pasifika Festival, or a Lantern Day, during the Lantern Festival, acknowledging Auckland's growing Pacific and Asian populations respectively.
There could also be a Bastion Point Day on May 25, highlighting some of the injustices to Māori but also acknowledging the relationship now between Ngāti Whatua and the Crown, and even a Peter Blake Day on October 1, acknowledging not only the Aucklander but also the city's contribution to world sailing.
These observance days would be similar to those in the United States, where the President could issue a declaration of selected public observances, which were not public holidays but days that could be observed with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
They typically honoured or commemorated a social cause, an ethnic group, an historic event, or an individual, and included Martin Luther King Day, or Native American Heritage Day.
"On Martin Luther King Day they have a whole host of events around country," Mulholland said.
"First and foremost it is an education exercise, but then they have a whole range of parades and speech competitions."
Nationally, Mulholland said observance days could include Rainbow Warrior Day on July 10 to acknowledge New Zealand's role in the nuclear free movement, and Suffragette Day on September 19, the date in 1893 when New Zealand women won the right to vote.
"Over time if they gained prominence then there could be a debate about making them public holidays. But I think it is important to start with something that does not cost anything, but recognises something we should be commemorating and/or celebrating."