Painful stories must be told – prime minister

Te Manuka Tutahi Marae File photo

AOTEAROA’s Treaty Settlement stories need to be told, recognised and remembered, minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern says.
The prime minister was in Whakatane on Friday for the Te Tai Treaty Settlements Story launch, a national Ministry for Culture and Heritage project that aims to collect, preserve and share the history of treaty settlements. This was Ms Ardern’s first official visit to Whakatane.
“This project has been a long time in the making, and I am not talking only about the last five years since this project was initiated.
“It goes back further in time to the period when Aotearoa New Zealand first began to investigate breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi,” the prime minister said at Te Manuka Tutahi Marae.
“It takes us further back still, to many of the voices, stories and personalities that led up to these settlements and helped shape the nation we live in today. This project is very much about living history.”
Ms Ardern acknowledged Sir Hirini Mead, who was at the launch, saying he had made a huge contribution to Maori, arts, language and culture over decades. The project has been spearheaded by Monty Souter, senior historian at the ministry.
“Now more than ever it is so important that we collect, preserve and share the history, especially while many of the key figures involved are able to tell their stories directly to us,” Ms Ardern said.
“That is why Te Tai is so important, it provides and incredible and impressive digital platform to tell the stories from the perspectives of those involved using contemporary story-telling, including the immersive web stories, documentaries and other education resources.”
Ms Ardern said the stories were honest.
“Speaking openly and honestly is a sign of the health of our nation. These are human stories that contain heartache, loss and suffering, pain and hardship.
“But they also contain determination, grit and healing and capacity for new beginnings.
“These stories will challenge myths and assumptions about the Treaty of Waitangi and treaty settlements, so we can have informed conversation as a nation about our shared history.”
Ms Ardern said the first stories would be of Ngati Awa settlement. “I recognise that these stories are difficult and painful to tell for many people, but it is important that they are told.
“Over the next decade Te Tai will inform New Zealanders about the histories of different settlements from across the country.”
Ms Ardern said Te Tai would also be an important resource for teachers.
“Te Tai offers a digital platform for people to connect with treaty history and provides online tools and resources for schools.
“I still remembered those many years ago when I was in school the power of those stories that I heard from my history teacher. And I think it is incredibly important for the next generation.
“This project is helping that next generation to hear those stories, understand the history of New Zealand the treaty settlement process.
“Imagine a resource for teachers where they can pull out a local treaty settlement and share that with their students, many of whom will have had ancestors themselves involved. It is the kind of teaching we should have in our schools.”