Te Ara Wai Museum to commemorate NZ Land Wars

By Regan Paranihi

The Waipa District Council are rallying behind Waikato iwi aiming to build a museum to commemorate the New Zealand Land Wars.  The museum will provide an insight into the historical battle sites in the Waipa district.

It is hoped the museum will honour and commemorate those whose lands were invaded during the 1860s.

Ngāti Maniapoto descendant Shane Te Ruki says, "This project about the land, about the war, about the invasion of the Europeans has gone unspoken, the head of the monster has not come out."

Waipa District Mayor Jim Mychreest adds, "It's one of those projects that, for many years, people have pushed on the back burner but just recently with a lot of work that the council has done with taking bus tours around, people are really keen to know the history of the district."

The call for more education around the NZ wars has been growing in recent years.

"We continue to fight for these stories to be told, the stories that still burn inside.  These are the stories that need to be told and this is an avenue we can use to tell these stories," says Te Ruki.

Mychrees says the stories need to be included in New Zealand 's education system.

"There is a real interest in New Zealand history, particularly the land wars that happened in Waipa.  This needs to be a compulsory part of that curriculum, it's so much about who we are as a nation and it hasn't been told up until this date."

Despite the support from the council, Te Ruki says they still need to find other avenues.

"'With feathers the bird flies'.  The council has given us some funding to help with this project, but now we have to look elsewhere for more support and funding," he says.

Mychreest also sees the potential for local tourism.

"It's really important to link the museum itself to the sights out in the environment, people can go to the museum get some information and then travel out to the various sites."

Te Ruki says the museum will be a space for holding and sharing the stories of that time. 

"I hope that it will blossom in time, I also hope to see a house with stories that relate only to our lands."

The Waipa District Council have allocated more than seven million dollars to build this museum, planned to open by 2022.