I’m immensely proud of Leah Bell and Waimarama Anderson who were inspired to start the petition calling on Parliament to designate a Day of Recognition for the New Zealand Land Wars. These two young women from Otorohanga College and their drive to make change give me great heart for the future as a tolerant and great place to live.
Leah and Waimarama collected over 12,000 signatures and made a submission to Parliament. The Maori Affairs Select Committee is currently hearing from a broad range of New Zealanders on this issue. And many agree that the school curriculum should include the NZ Wars as a core part of the so that future generations can nurture a better understanding of our history and, with it, a stronger sense of nationhood.
There are several suggestions about which day should be set aside. And we should to keep an open mind and consider all the options – now we have made this step we need this idea to gain traction and must join to show just how important this is to all of us.
I was delighted that the Government gifted back Rangiriri a prominent Waikato battle site as a gesture of goodwill and commitment to this cause.
We should also recognise that it was two young women engaging in the political process that started this change and celebrate this – it bodes well for a future in which we can move past the painful events of the past and reach towards reconciliation in good faith and friendship.
A Day of Recognition will happen but the process to engage New Zealanders along the way will transform this from a day of commemoration to a shared national identity based on the founding principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Ka pai Waimarama and Leah, you have shown us that leadership comes from a strong heart and given us even more hope for what will come.