150 years ago in 1863 a significant event occurred at Rangiriri. The British had invaded the Waikato, part of their campaign to gain more land in the region for the burgeoning settler population. The Governor (Grey) ordered this invasion on the pretext that settlers and the growing town of Auckland were being threatened by the Maori who could rightly claim that they were trying to preserve the land they still held. At the time and for many years after this time, New Zealanders were taught about the ‘Maori Wars’ and how the brave British fought to claim land from the rebellious Maori. Governor Grey had insisted that Maori in the Mangere area should swear an oath of allegiance to Queen Victoria. Naturally, Maori said that this was not necessary as they already had a King. Grey’s response was to use this as a reason to launch the invasion of the Waikato and take the land of those who refused to lay down their arms. History has not always being recorded accurately re the actual events that took place or the reasons for them. It has only been in the last few decades that we had had a semblance of the ‘truth’ surrounding the colonization of New Zealand although there has always been a number of ‘scholars’ who have reported history as it happened. Not all Pakeha supported the ‘invasion’ and many Maori sided with the Crown. The reasoning for this can be construed in many ways, according to the ‘spin’ put on by the holders of those views.
Today will see an acknowledgement of the bravery and ingenuity of the men (and women) who fought in the battle at Rangiriri and also continue the journey towards reconciliation; one that acknowledges the torrid beginnings of modern New Zealand, not one based on some Victorian view of the world. Moving forward is the only way to go but it must have its roots in ‘truth.’