Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou; seek knowledge for your wellbeing.
For generations, the truth of Aotearoa New Zealand has been told mainly from a Eurocentric point of view, missing other perspectives to some of our most historic moments and indeed, the entire history of this country.
Part two of Stuff’s Our Truth project, The truth about Aotearoa, challenges the historical narrative of events and history itself. It reveals untold and under-covered stories from New Zealand’s history, in a bid to explain how the past continues to impact the world we live in today.
“The development of our country has been an exercise in monocultural mythmaking,” says Carmen Parahi, Stuff’s Pou Tiaki editor. “Like all colonised countries, our history is troubled. It is a history not taught in schools yet, or well recognised in our collective conception of ourselves.”
Part two begins on Waitangi Day, the commemoration of the Treaty of Waitangi, a significant moment between hapū Māori and Great Britain. Many know about the Treaty but few understand its purpose, the context for signing and the many actions or non-actions since 1840 still impacting our every day.
Similarly, The truth about Aotearoa contextualises events and history reshaping itself when other perspectives are included. In Auckland, a holocaust survivor talks about New Zealand’s only hate speech conviction. From Timaru, descendants reveal details about Te Heke, the migration of Waitaha people who tried to reconnect with their lands and customs. In the Waikato, the grisly truth of Lake Karāpiro is revealed. A doctor in Marlborough defied his superiors to treat Māori patients.
There are deep dives into the racism and complexities of Māori land legislation, New Zealand’s first execution and its terrible legacy, and the forever foreigner concept impacting on migrants of colour.
“As journalists, our job is to expose the truth, even when it may not be popular to do so. This project is about giving light to some of the ugly truths in our history that can help us all learn from the past and create a better, less prejudiced future for all,” says Parahi.
The Our Truth | Tā Mātou Pono project, with its two parts, has been one of the most comprehensive for Stuff, enabled by Stuff’s strong local presence and newsrooms across the country.
Over a hundred reporters, visual journalists, print and digital production teams have been involved in the two-part project, with stories coming from the top of the North to Rakiura Stewart Island.
Part two follows The truth about Stuff, where Stuff journalists investigated how the media organisation had portrayed Māori and offered a public apology, promising to do better for all people of Aotearoa.
It also comes off the back of Stuff’s 2018 campaign to back compulsory New Zealand history in schools alongside calls from iwi Māori, academics, teachers and students such as Ōtorohanga College. In 2019, the Government announced Māori and New Zealand history will be compulsory and taught in all schools in 2022. The draft history curriculum was released this week for public feedback.
The truth about Aotearoa will roll out over Waitangi weekend and every Monday for the next three months.