The historic site of one of the largest battles of the New Zealand Wars has been returned to Waikato-Tainui as part of the 10th anniversary Koroneihana celebrations for Kiingi Tuheitia.
152 years ago the Crown invaded the Waikato at Rangiriri Pā. It's considered to be one of worst battles that saw 500 warriors defeated. The land was taken but it has now been returned.
The gifting of two carved waka-huia, one to the government and one to the King to solidify the importance of Rangiriri's return.
King Tuheitia spokesperson Rahui Papa says, “Welcome the day foreseen by your ancestor Tāwhiao in his time. He said, 'Warfare in this land has ended just like a withered flax bush. For those who wish to promote warfare after this, they in turn shall pay the price. Now the government has come to address the wrong they caused to your ancestor, the Kīngitanga, your tribe and the Māori people.”
King Tuheitia has set three simple goals. Return our land, teach our children, give our day.
Kingitanga representative Tukoroirangi Morgan says, “These battle sites in New Zealand, there is only one message to the government, return the lands to the orginal owners. Return the lands to the original owners. Teach the history to our children, don't keep it a secret. Give us a day to commemorate so the Māori people and the people of NZ will not forget the wrongs of the Crown.”
A call was put out to the Government to make it compulsory to teach the history of the NZ Wars in schools.
Minister of Māori Affairs Te Ururoa Flavell says, “We were fortunate the petition by the students from Otorohanga was presented at Parliament to promote that issue. We have now realised that endeavour. Here is Rangiriri. Teaching our kids will come later. The day is ours.”
Tomorrow, haka groups from around NZ will take to the Coronation stage.