I am a Māori woman who weeps when I hear the words, Ōrākau, Rangiaowhia, Rangiriri, Meremere; this tragic roll call of almost incomprehensible pain and loss. When I drive down Great South Road to the Waikato, I imagine the beat of horse’s hooves and the tramp of soldier’s boots and I feel a catch in my throat.
Recently, during a staff-room lunch break with colleagues in my Faculty, a debate sprang up about teaching about violent histories. They had been talking about the reluctance of the New Zealand Ministry of Education to position New Zealand’s colonial history as a central component of the school curriculum. It was one of those conversations that started casually enough but ended in fiery denunciations and a string of reply-to-all emails that lasted through the afternoon. Someone had brought in a basket of feijoas† from their garden and I tucked into them as the debate unfolded at the other end of the table (I’ve published on this debate so my views are already known to my colleagues).