The history of Aotearoa really covers everything from its creation to yesterday. To prescribe that only events from a particular period form the history, or are the only ones to be taught in our school curriculum would limit our understanding of New Zealand history.
A new, well researched publication due to be printed this year will be a very useful addition to any school, university or public library dealing with New Zealand History. Click here for details of the book.
Historical landforms, land shaping events, botanical and environmental vegetation changes, biological changes to our animal, aquatic and bird life all form a part of the history of our great country and all attract their own specialists and experts but the events that attract most people’s attention are those relating to the human history of our nation.
Who were the very first people to arrive in New Zealand? Where did they come from? Have explorers from exotic lands been here and died out? Who was here when the Maori started to arrive and what was the relationship between them and the people already here? What were their beliefs and culture? As different canoes arrived and settled in different areas what was the relationship between the tribes like? Up to this point there are no written records that can be referred to.
As European explorers arrived we begin to get some recorded history of events; recorded by the Europeans because those already occupying the land had no system of writing events down. Storytelling and oral histories were certainly prevalent but as evidence in any court of law shows these can vary considerably from the point of view of those telling the story. Tribal conflict was very evident and dissension quite common.
New Zealand History as it really concerns a lot of us began when the early settlers started to arrive in larger numbers. Countries in the Western world were becoming overcrowded and ruled in some instances by cruel, ruthless societies oppressing the poorer working class people. When entrepreneurs saw the chance of resettling some of these people in relatively un-occupied lands (and probably hoping to make some money out of the process) they began to organise expeditions to places like New Zealand. The whole population of the country was probably no more than the population of one of Europe’s medium sized cities and there appeared to be plenty of space to accommodate a few hundred people who were willing to travel across the world (not an event undertaken lightly in those days) with the hope of being able to establish a better life for themselves, their families and their descendants.
The promises of the entrepreneurial organisers of these events were rather short in their fulfilment and the fate of these new comers could have been disastrous if the local Maori had not come to their assistance. Complete antithesis of land holding tenures gave serious misunderstanding between the two peoples and as the newcomers wanted to expand and hold land of their own for their personal use conflict began to arise.
Other people from other nations were beginning to show an interest in New Zealand and the history of Aotearoa took another turn. British officials seeking to thwart other nation’s interest in NZ sought an arrangement with the local Maori and the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, the exact meaning of which is still being debated today. New settlers continued to arrive, a local government was appointed, and some Maori were willing to sell land which others said was not theirs to sell and so the conflict started.
There are many versions of exactly what happened and, as in any war, there were grave injustices inflicted. All this gives a very wide range of events to be included in a New Zealand History curriculum and this is only part way through the History of Aotearoa.
Once the settlers began to reach out across the country, which they did as war ceased, other aspects of our history began. The settling of un-explored land and subjecting untamed bush and scrub country to the plough and the development of farming systems using the latest technology (as it was at the time) began another era. The development of roads and transport systems and communications all impacted our history.
This scene was enacted right across the country with the settlers facing what we today would consider incredible hardships to win a living from the land, (one mother stood on a chair to make a head count to ensure her children had all got across safely cross a stream on a slippery log on their way to school) to develop communities vastly different to what they had come from and to set the foundations of the society as we knew it in the New Zealand of recent years. Today more changes are descending upon us and we will find them as difficult to accept as others in the past found the challenges they faced both life changing and difficult.
Tikorangi was one such area and the history of the development of the district into the vibrant community it is today and stories of the people who have made it what it is, have just been told in a new publication that will be available shortly. Tikorangi’s history was added to when oil exploration found petroleum products under Tikorangi’s rich soils and another conflict, in some people’s eyes, was begun.