History, sovereignty and the Maori people

September 12

The front of Hairini Marae carving room

Morning alarms around the wharenui began promptly at 7am signaling to the 16 of us that had spent our first night in the Hairini carving house, that it was time to get up and start our day.Once up, people slowly made their way into the dinning house to find that Birdie had graced the group with the preparation of a traditional Native America meal, frybread. Birdie explained the small handful of ingredient needed to make the delicious breakfast and the traditional use of the bread in a number of her family’s Native American dishes back home.

After breakfast the group convened for our last class session. The class began by reflecting on our cold and rainy day spent with Brad learning the history of the Orakei Block, on the outskirts of Auckland’s city center. We discussed the presence of a double standard that has been placed on the Maori people in their fight to reclaim land back from the Crown, leading to a more complex discussion on the perception of Native peoples with power.

After our class session we met back in the wharenui to hear from Josh about his perspective on the revitalization of Maori history and sovereignty. Josh started his story in the early 1800’s with the first traveling European colonizers that settled New Zealand. He was able to split the history of New Zealand into a few distinct eras: Pre Land Wars, Land Wars, Land Confiscation, and Revitalization. Using these time periods, Josh told us the story of the lone Maori victory in the Land Wars against the British. At the end of Josh’s historical story he stressed the importance of remembering, restoring, and reigniting history for the Maori people as well as raising awareness through all parts and cultures of New Zealand. There are many places around New Zealand that are still to this day named after British military officials who took part in the mass murdering of Maori men, women and children throughout the Land Wars era. However with the revitalization of history and Maori sovereignty in schools, New Zealand can hopeful find itself on a healthier path forward. To finish the day, at about 5pm the group taxied to town to enjoy a local meal and beach sunset.


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