Hundreds of people gathered at Parliament today to support a petition driven by two students from Otorohanga College wanting a National Day of remembrance for those killed in the New Zealand Land Wars.
Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Maggie Barry addressed the crowd that she would personally support the issue by taking it to cabinet.
Barry says, “After hearing some of your stories today and understanding the need to spread those stories, I feel it is time to consider very strongly your request. I will be adding my voice to those of Te Ururoa Flavell. I'll consult with my cabinet colleagues and caucus, and talk to my officials about what form commemorations can take.”
Nanaia Mahuta, Hauraki-Waikato MP says, “She isn't the only one, others have started thinking that way.”
13,000 signatures were collected for this petition, an impressive accomplishment considering that it was secondary school students who initiated the petition process.
Leah Bell was one of the students at the forefront and says, “We began petitioning on the streets, at festivals, kapa haka festivals, native food festivals, rowing, we went everywhere!”
Paraone Gloyne who played a key role in the Ōrākau commemorations last year, when Gloyne was questioned why it was so important to celebrate the New Zealand Wars. He said, "The better question is, why not! Why should New Zealand not focus on its own history?”
If the issue doesn't reach a successful outcome in Parliament, Tainui leader Tukoroirangi Morgan says this won't be the last of their efforts.
“It's in the government's hands. If we don't succeed, there will always be another day, another cause, another job to do, another government,” says Morgan.