At The Guardian:
For many Pākehā (non-Māori) New Zealanders the wars were part of a troubled past they preferred to forget. Anzac Day, by contrast, provides a ready opportunity to rally around the flag, patriotically remembering those who died at Gallipoli or on the Western Front. And this has been reflected in government priorities. According to one estimate, central funding for centennial first world war activities is at least 100 times greater than was made available for the Waikato war sesquicentenary.
What a nation chooses to remember and forget speaks to its priorities. Those who tell Māori to “stop living in the past” or to just “get over it” rarely apply the same logic to first world war commemorations. And yet without dialogue, there can be no reconciliation. The resolution of historical Māori land claims under the Treaty of Waitangi, though important, has seen minimal Pākehā awareness and engagement of the history behind the grievances.
The students of Otorohanga College have helped promote a conversation about national identity that is long overdue. Is New Zealand mature enough as a nation to own its history, embracing the difficult aspects of the past as a way of moving forward? For now, the signs are encouraging. It is time, as one editorial recently noted, to bring these wars out of the shadows.