It seems like a no brainer. If we teach the next generation the history of our country and give them some context for how we got to the present uneasy state of cultural confusion, we can hope to build better relationships in the future. Can’t we? After all, a petition calling for the Land Wars to be remembered in a national day was presented to Parliament by some young women from Ōtorohanga College last week. They had been educated and they want to remember and to share that knowledge.
Hekia Parata said “no” to this being required in the Curriculum, she said it is up to individual schools to decide. I say that approach to teaching our history has already failed, with many kids growing up not knowing the context of local land struggles. People don’t know about Rangiowhia or Ngatapa, or Ōrākau or Wairau. They don’t know what happened at Gate Pā, let alone what Tītokowaru fought for or against. They don’t know about Waerenga a Hika or Ruakituri either, let alone Ruapekapeka. But they all know about Gallipoli and the Somme. And it is not their fault.
I did some research by visiting some Wellington schools asking how Te Tiriti was taught. It was a mixed bag and a worry. Our schools need to teach what happened after Te Tiriti was signed, and how the Crown dishonoured its promises. Unless students comprehend how the articles of the Treaty were upheld or breached by the Land Wars, the Treaty itself makes little sense.
History is not a core topic any more. So are we doomed to repeat it? In social studies, some schools are doing great but lots of them teach more about the civil rights movement in USA than the indigenous struggle in Aotearoa. This might seem safer but in the long run, it really isn’t. Those white marble statues of some pretty dodgy players in the land wars need reinterpretation and every student needs that education, how about some national leadership on this kaupapa?