The Ministry of Education says it will not support a call to include the New Zealand Wars in the national curriculum.
Hundreds of people gathered in Wellington in December 2015 to present a student-led petition signed by 12,000 people, calling for a day to mark the land wars and for the history of those events to be taught in schools.
Secretary of Education Peter Hughes says that a written submission to include the land wars would be contrary to the spirit and underlying principles of the current curriculum.
The petition was presented to the Maori King by Otorohanga students Waimarama Anderson and Leah Bell. Bell, 16 and Anderson, 17, visited local festivals and commemorations to gain support.
Bell’s mother, who is a teacher, feels youth are being “ripped off” from learning their history. They also presented their petition to the Maori Affairs select committee.
A focus from the petition is that there is not enough awareness about New Zealand wars and that the events should be included in the curriculum.
Close to 3000 people lost their lives in the conflicts between government forces which took place in 1842 to 1872. Most of them were Maori.
Ministry associate deputy secretary, Karl Le Quesne, supports students learning about the New Zealand wars but will not be forcing the curriculum change.
The Ministry are not aware of how many schools currently teach about the Land Wars or how in-depth the subjects are taught.
The main aim of the petition is to create a day of remembrance: A New Zealand Land Wars National Day.