OUR JOURNEY TO PETITION SUCCESS

 

In 2014 on a little dusty road, standing in the middle of a sacred site of an unprovoked massacre, 186 students from Ōtorohanga College were exposed to the devastating stories of our nation’s past. Two of us decided that we needed to do something: that such a pivotal time in our history would be unwise to forget: that we owed it to our ancestors, to ourselves, and to our future generations to understand why roads traverse sacred sites that have become national secrets, why there is a fight to retain our native language, why we need a Treaty settlement process, and why we must refute it when it is said that our nation was settled peacefully. To confiscate land is to take someone’s language, spirituality, and nearly all aspects of their way of life. Subsequently, the petition to commemorate the New Zealand Land Wars as a statutory holiday was born. 

 

Today some of us attended the Koroneihana to witness Minister Maggie Barry return Rangiriri to the people, and announce that New Zealand will have an annual day to commemorate the Land Wars. 

 

For us, it has taken two years of walking the streets getting signatures, endless emails, speaking to politicians, historians, media, academics, musicians, and more; addressing parliament, addressing civic action conferences, and addressing our own peers, and several super-mums, to get to this point.

 

For New Zealand, it has been over 150 years of struggle to see this day.  

 

700 children from local mainstream schools, in a Kawenata with Waikato-Tainui, performed Waiata and Kapa Haka in recognition and commitment to wanting to learn our history.  It was one of the most impressive and joyous sights we have ever seen. 

 

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this kaupapa. The people who signed online, on the street, all the organisations, media, historians, academics, the Human Rights Commission, the politicians including Whaea Nanaia Mahuta who championed this cause from the start, Zak Henry who continues to run the facebook page no matter where he is in the world, and all the other endless groups of people who have made this happen.  

 

My last, but most special thanks goes to my Mum, Whaea Mariana and Matua Raahui, who (in my professional opinion!) were the heart and soul of this whole journey. 

 

It is not even close to being over yet, but if there is something to be learnt from such a colossal feat, it is that change can be created from the most humble and naive beginnings.

Like my little school who believes that anyone, of any age or background, has the power to create change for the better.

 

Leah Bell

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He Tohu

NATIONAL LIBRARY

Department of Internal Affairs celebrates our College's commitment to commemorate the New Zealand Landwars as a permanent exhibition of our landmark documents; He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Niu Tireni, Te Tiriti O Waitangi, 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition.

CLICK HERE to view the full He Tohu Exhibition