New Zealand Wars commemoration set for 11th March

By Raniera Harrison

The famous flagpole chopped down by Hone Heke is at the centre of the latest national remembrance event being facilitated by numerous tribal leaders of Northland.

“There will undoubtedly be a lot of people descending here due to their love of this initiative,” says Pita Tipene (Ngāti Hine).

The organising committee of the event, aptly named 'Te Pūtake o Te Riri', has met in Kawakawa to finalise arrangements for the proposed three-day national remembrance event.

“One thing is clear - we are looking at the 11th March 2018 as the day of national remembrance.  That was the day that Kawiti, Hone Heke and the like began a siege on the government of the time,” says Mr Tipene, the chairman of the board vested with organising the national event.

The Māori Party secured funding of $4 million, over four years, in Budget 2016 to support New Zealand Land Wars commemorations.

“It was from there that the concept was conceived to commemorate and honour those who had spilt blood for the sovereignty of the land,” Tipene adds.

According to Tipene, it is evident why the initial outlay of ideas for the national day of remembrance did not eventuate on the prescribed day of 28th October - the day in 1835 the Declaration of Independence was signed.

“Ignorance from external influence and a blatant disregard from former governments to take heed of pro-Māori initiatives,” is to blame according to Tipene.

Commemorations will take place simultaneously in Waitangi and Russell at this year's event.