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The New Zealand Wars and the School Curriculum

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By Joanna Kidman and Vincent O'Malley

The New Zealand Wars (1845-72) had a decisive influence over the course of the nation’s history. Yet Pākehā have not always cared to remember them in anything approaching a robust manner, engaging at different times either in elaborate myth-making that painted the wars as chivalrous and noble or, when that was no longer tenable, actively choosing to ignore them altogether. More recently there are signs of a greater willingness to face up to the bitter and bloody realities of these conflicts. For many Māori, that is not before time.

If a turning point in Pākehā remembrance could be identified, then perhaps it might be the petition organised by students from Ōtorohanga College that led to a national day of commemoration for the New Zealand Wars (Rā Maumahara). In 2014, students from the school, some as young as 15, visited nearby Ōrākau and Rangiaowhia. The group was led by kaumātua who were descendants of the survivors. At each si…

Defining Conflicts? The New Zealand Wars

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In this Friends of the Turnbull Library event, Dr Vincent O’Malley, author of The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000, will present an overview of the New Zealand Wars – a series of conflicts that profoundly shaped the course and direction of our nation’s history. He looks at the origins, causes and consequences of these conflicts and discusses how the wars have been remembered historically.



Vincent has recently received a Friends of the Turnbull Library research grant to help him research his latest book project, a history of the New Zealand Wars aimed at the secondary school market.

5.30 pm, Thursday 22 November

Ground Floor, National Library of New Zealand
Corner of Aitken and Molesworth streets
Thorndon, Wellington


Webpage: https://natlib.govt.nz/events/defining-conflicts-the-new-zealand-wars-november-22-2018

The Waikato War and Auckland

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Last month I spoke at the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park seminar, held at Auckland Museum, on how the Waikato War helped transform Auckland and the wider Hauraki Gulf. Auckland, I suggested, is a city built on immense Māori contributions, even if this history is not widely known or understood today.

Watch the video of my talk here.



Teaching New Zealand Wars History

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Efforts to ensure more young New Zealanders learn the history of the New Zealand Wars at school stepped up recently, with Stuff launching a campaign to support this kaupapa. As an editorial announcing the campaign noted:

"Kiwi school kids can leave the education system knowing more about Tudor England than the New Zealand Wars.  This is a ridiculous situation and a sad indictment on our commitment to partnership under the Treaty."



The series of stories included some inspirational examples of schools which had taken up the challenge, including one Hamilton primary school. The New Zealand Wars, I explained in one interview for the series, could best be understood as a clash between two competing visions of what the Treaty of Waitangi represented.

I also spoke about this issue on TVNZ's Breakfast show. Over the past month or so I have been giving a series of talks in schools around the country on New Zealand Wars history, with more to come. I spoke about how young people ha…

Learning the Trick of Standing Upright Here

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Stuff recently ran a great series of stories as part of a special project called NZ Made/Nā Nīu Tīreni that included information about every modern Treaty of Waitangi settlement, maps of Māori land loss and explanations about how had this occurred. As John Hartevelt wrote in introducing the project:

"New Zealand has not done well at grappling with its past. The unsettling truth about how this country was made is still not well understood. It has not been adequately taught in our schools. Our popular culture hasn't reflected it well enough. And our media has failed to tell it loudly and clearly. The Treaty of Waitangi, and its subsequent betrayals, is the heart of how New Zealand was made. We need to reckon with what happened in order to understand the Treaty settlements process that continues today."
The theme of selective remembrance is one I returned to when invited to contribute an opinion piece as part of the series.
                                         …

He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti

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Some time ago I was interviewed for the He Tohu exhibition that is located at the National Library of New Zealand.

He Tohu is a permanent exhibition of three iconic constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa/New Zealand. The documents are:
1835 He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni — Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi – Treaty of Waitangi1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition – Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine.
The full version of my interview (around 16 minutes long) has recently been released online. It traverses He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti, but also the wider context of Māori and Pākehā relationships from the eighteenth century through to today.







Many more videos with a wide range of experts and commentators can be viewed on the He Tohu website.

Learning (and not learning) about the New Zealand Wars

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By now many people know something of the story of the small-town petition from which big things grew. In December 2015 students from Otorohanga College and their supporters presented a petition signed by over 12,000 people to Parliament.

Some eight months later the government announced that a national day of commemoration for the New Zealand Wars would be established. Rā Maumahara was born.

Less well-known is that the Otorohanga College students had a second objective. They wanted the history of these conflicts to be taught in all schools. We are still waiting on that one.

The Ministry of Education strongly opposed this aspect of the petition in a 2016 submission to the Māori Affairs Committee, while admitting it had no idea how many students studied the New Zealand Wars.

Anecdotally, many people have told me they learned nothing of these wars. But I was curious to know more. So I took to social media. Last week I put up a Twitter poll with a simple question: Did you learn…

Auckland's 'Founding Father'

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Grey Street Must Fall: The Waikato Garrison Towns in History and Memory

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In December 2017 I had the pleasure of addressing the two-day 'Garrison Towns in the Nineteenth Century Empire' symposium hosted at Victoria University of Wellington as part of the Marsden Fund project Soldiers of Empire.
My contribution considered the garrison towns of the Waikato district along what became the boundary between the area conquered and seized by invading British and colonial troops after April 1864 and the Kīngitanga territory to the south of this, beyond the Puniu River. A particular focus was the town of Kihikihi, which continues to have a disproportionately large Māori population today in comparison with other settlements in the region.    Abstract: Today, the street signs pay silent homage to the Pākehā politicians and soldiers responsible for its conquest and later confiscation in the Waikato War of 1863-64. Grey, Cameron, Carey, Whitaker and other streets in the small Waikato town of Kihikihi taunt its many (34%) Māori residents with daily reminders of …

Questioning the Canon: Colonial History, Counter-Memory and Youth Activism

'Questioning the Canon: Colonial History, Counter-Memory and Youth Activism', co-authored with Dr Joanna Kidman from Victoria University of Wellington, was recently published in its online version in the journal Memory Studies.

Abstract:

Social memory is inscribed by power relations that both produce and contain canonical state narratives. In settler nations, where indigenous and state relationships remain unresolved, tribal memories of violent colonial histories that are passed on to successive generations expose ‘official’ silences in foundational stories about a nation’s origins.

In this article, we examine a public debate that occurred when a group of secondary school students took a petition to the New Zealand Parliament calling for formal recognition of the difficult history of the New Zealand Wars – a series of nineteenth-century clashes between British imperial troops and their colonial allies against indigenous Māori.

Drawing on Hirsch’s concept of postmemory…

'The Great War for New Zealand' at the New Zealand Festival

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The Great War for New Zealand to feature at the New Zealand Festival Writers and Readers weekend:

This country’s most significant and traumatic conflict, crucial in shaping the nation, was the 1863–64 war between Māori and British troops in the Waikato.

In his ground-breaking, monumental work The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800–2000, historian Vincent O’Malley explores Māori and Pākehā relationships from first contact to settlement and government apology.



He discusses his research with “artivist” Moana Maniapoto, musician and writer for e-Tangata.


Where: New Zealand Festival Club, 17 Cable Street, Wellington 6011

When: 4.15-5.15pm, Saturday, 10 March 2018

Ticketing and more information:  https://www.festival.co.nz/2018/events/defining-nation/





NZ Historical Association Mary Boyd Prize 2017

It was a great honour to have been announced as the 2017 winner of the Mary Boyd Prize at the New Zealand Historical Association’s conference in Auckland in December.

Named in memory of the Pacific historian Mary Beatrice Boyd (1921–2010), this award is for the best article on any aspect of New Zealand history published in a refereed journal. The prize covered articles published between April 2015 and April 2017.
My winning article, ‘“Recording the Incident with a Monument”: The Waikato War in Historical Memory’, was published in the open-access Journal of New Zealand Studies in 2015.
The article charts changing perceptions of the Waikato War in national memory and consciousness and formed the basis for a chapter on this topic in my subsequent book The Great War for New Zealand.

Read the wining article here.