Battle of Oraakau commemoration – 1 April

For three days from 31 March to 2 April 1864, 300 men and women of the Kiingitanga held off 1800 Imperial and colonial troops armed with the latest military hardware. It was an epic battle and one that forever changed this country’s history and contines to reverberate today. Yet despite this fact, most New Zealanders probably know more about Gallipolli, Paeschendaele and the Somme than they do about the series of battles from 1845-1865 that collectively are known as the Land Wars. Even this label glosses over the fact that, upon the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, which conferred upon Maaori the “rights and privileges of British subjects”, these battles were in essence, New Zealand’s very own Civil War – a fact noted by Tukoroirangi Morgan during his speech. There were a number of calls for the land on which these battles were fought to be bought by the Crown (many of them are in private ownership) and preserved for all generations to reflect upon.

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