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Ed Sheeran

Waikato War ended bicultural dream

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A leading historian says the Waikato War of 1863 and 1864 has been largely forgotten historically, despite its importance in shaping the nation.

Vincent O'Malley is working on a major book about the war for publication next year, and he shared some of his research in the annual Stout lecture at Victoria University yesterday.

He says a review of census data and casualty figures includes as many as 8 percent of Waikato Tainui people were killed or wounded in the war, compared with the New Zealand casualty rate of 5.8 percent, including 1.7 percent killed, in World War One.

Dr O'Malley says coming just five years after the Indian Mutiny and involving many of the same troops, it was a war for the future of New Zealand.

"On the Kingitanga side you've got these hopes and aspirations of a kind of bicultural future and a vision of partnership and working together. On the other side you've got a crown which insists there can be only one law through the country, there could be only one sovereign, and sees no place for the Maori king in that society. Crown victory in the Waikato War brings an end to that period when Maori still hold our hopes for partnership. The legacy of that carries on for at least the next hundred years," he says.

Dr O'Malley says many of the myths about New Zealand race relations were formed as part of the process of forgetting the Waikato War.



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