October 29, 2021
Monumental reminder of Waikato oppression
A commemoration of the Waikato War, Te Pūtake o te Riri, He Rā Maumahara, has been put off for a second year because of Covid restrictions, but historian Vincent O’Malley says the rethinking of how Aotearoa views its past needs to continue.
Dr O’Malley, whose books include The Great War of New Zealand: Waikato 1800 – 2000, says the wars between 1862 and 1872 ended Māori dominance of the economy and cemented colonial power.
He says Māori are much closer to that history because they live with the consequences.
“If you are growing up in a town like Kihikihi then you probably live on a street named after a military officer or politician responsible for the invasion of that district or the dispossession of your people. These monuments and memorials reinforce that. I think we’re at a point where we need to have more conversations around how things are remembered,” Dr O’Malley says.
He says many of the monuments went up not just after the wars but 40 or 50 years later in a celebration of imperialism and colonisation.