A new national day is on the cards, with the announcement the New Zealand Land Wars will be commemorated.
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English confirmed at the return of the Rangiriri battle site to Māori at Turangawaewae.
Historian Dr Paul Moon says the creation of the day could change the way New Zealanders view their history.
“Probably for over 100 years now it’s been seen as a history of events taking place overseas, particularly to do with the First World War.
“I think this is really a case of taking the ship and pointing it in the other direction, saying we have our own history that needs some recognition.”
The announcement has been described as a landmark decision.
Dr Moon says more people lost their lives during the Land Wars than the World Wars.
“In all the wars of the 19th Century within New Zealand, the death toll was over 20,000. The fact that that’s been side-lined for so long is almost inexplicable.
“So it’s a very important change.”
Dr Moon says the new holiday could encourage people to learn more about New Zealand’s history.
“The hope with this commemorative day is it might actually get the public putting more pressure on schools and education systems, saying, ‘Look, this is so important to who we are. It’s part of the architecture of our identity and we absolutely have to have it taught in schools.'”
The date of the new holiday is yet to be decided.