Tag Archives: history

Māori Representation in WWI

September 9, 2017

A larger-than-life display of a kiwi soldier fighting in the Gallipoli battle during WWI.

Our first free day in Wellington consisted of rest and time exploring the city! The day before, we visited the famous Te Papa museum and got a special back of the house tour of their “Mana Whenua” exhibit, which loosely translates to “authority of the land.” The Mana Whenua exhibit was one of many in the expansive museum, so we decided to come back the next day and explore the rest, especially since it’s free! One place we hadn’t checked out was the Gallipoli exhibition. Gallipoli was a battle during World War I where New Zealand helped other Allied forces invade the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. Sadly, the campaign ended with over 2,500 casualties on the New Zealand side. Despite the tragedy, the Gallipoli battle was very important as not only one of New Zealand’s first major steps in cultivating a sense of national identity, but also as the first battle where Māori and pākehā, or foreign settlers, fought together. In the exhibit, there was a large section detailing Māori involvement in the battle through The Māori Contingent, an all Māori battalion, which landed in Gallipoli in July of 1915. The display described how important Māori involvement was in the battle, earning them the respect and admiration of British and pākehā troops. But it also stated that many have overlooked their involvement historically. Seeing this reminded me of the fact that many modern treaty settlement claims being assessed by the Waitangi Tribunal are related to the health issues of Māori veterans involved in World War I and the Vietnam War. For context, the Waitangi Tribunal is a group of people tasked with hearing Māori claims of Treaty of Waitangi violations by European settlers. Part of the treaty claimed that Māori would gain the same rights and liberties as British citizens. However, after coming home from war many Māori soldiers were not given the same treatment as the pākehā veterans. Today, the grievances of Māori veterans, especially relating to PTSD, are finally being heard and settlements are being advocated for by the Waitangi Tribunal. Learning about the Tribunals current efforts and seeing the Māori Contingent soldiers receive recognition in the Gallipoli exhibit has made me hopeful that Māori veterans will be rightfully compensated for their service in the near the future.


Racquel West

Me looking out a window.

Hello, my name is Racquel and I am a student at the University of Washington. I am double majoring in History, with a concentration in Race, Gender, and Power, and Geography, with a concentration in Globalization, Health, and Development. I am currently a sophomore and will finish my undergraduate degrees by 2020. I hope to attend graduate school and receive a Ph.D. in Geography. In the future, I would like to be a social science researcher; I would enjoy being an ethnographer or working for the Smithsonian.  I will focus my career on working with marginalized communities and understanding the systematic processes that perpetuate oppression and inequality.

During spring quarter of my freshman year, I took a class on American Indian History since 1815. This was my introduction to indigenous studies and the concept of settler colonialism. Through this class, I learned the extent of colonialism, marginalization, and historical traumas that have led to our reality in modern-day America. Since this class, I have narrowed my interests to studying intergenerational, socio-economic, and intersectional issues regarding borders and how people utilize, describe themselves, and transition through these definitive, yet invisible spatial boundaries.

This is my first study abroad program. While I am in Aotearoa, I hope to learn as much as I can in regard to how the Maori peoples are currently working to overcome the obstacles that are restricting their rights and sovereignty. I am particularly interested in the current political climate and the attempts from the government and indigenous communities to reach a mutually beneficial, and fairer, interpretation of the different versions of the Treaty of Waitangi. Along with this, I want to see how the borders between these communities are becoming more, or less, prominent during this process. Lastly, I am interested in understanding how settler colonialism has embedded itself in the spatial interactions and landscape of New Zealand. While I have learned how America has dealt with the lasting impacts its own settler colonialism, it will be interesting to see how a different county, with different historical traumas, will work to move forward.