The anguish of the New Zealand Land Wars will be remembered over Labour Weekend with commemorations taking place in Waipā.

For the last two years Waipā District Council and Nga Iwi Topu O Waipa have acknowledged the New Zealand Land Wars with services and wreath laying at significant locations in the district.

This year Waipā District Council's director of museums Anne Blyth said the council would take a different approach to mark the event, with the museum's Resistance, Resilience, Remembrance exhibition opening, and the new Te Ara Wai gallery.

The gallery is a precursor to the Te Ara Wai Journeys product that will launch in December.


Journeys will take visitors on pathways through natural landscapes, battle sites and early settlements in Waipa that formed the community and helped to shape Aotearoa New Zealand as a nation.

Enriching visitors' experience on-location, Journeys shares the stories of the Waipā district, encompassing the region's people, their struggles, innovation and resilience; and the battles for land and sovereignty during the New Zealand Land Wars.

"With advice and discussions with mana whenua, it was decided that a formal service this year was not appropriate due to the significant commemoration that will be held in Taranaki that most dignitaries and iwi representatives are attending," says Anne.

"It's still important to us that our community can acknowledge the New Zealand Land Wars and reflect on how our lives were fundamentally changed," she says. "People lost their lives, land and their way of life."

She says the community is becoming more aware of what took place, but there is still a lot of work to do to educate New Zealanders about the past, how that defined who we are today, and how that shapes our future.

On Monday five wreaths will be laid by the council across the district. The community is also invited to lay their own wreaths at St John Te Awamutu, Rewi Maniapoto Memorial, Kihikihi, Rangiaowhia and O-Rakau.

Signage will also be placed throughout the district to promote the Te Awamutu Museum exhibition and flags will be flying in Te Awamutu and Cambridge.

This year's national commemoration in Taranaki will focus on battle sites around Waitara, in particular Te Kohia pa where the first shots of the New Zealand Land Wars were fired.


National commemorations were held for the first time last year in Kororareka.

They were established as a national initiative to commemorate the New Zealand Land Wars.

Events are held around New Zealand to increase awareness and understanding of the history of New Zealand and the conflict that took place.

Waipa will host the national commemoration in 2020, and plans are now getting under way for the three-day national event.