Local histories - a student’s perspective

Arapeta Latus, a senior student at Whanganui City College, talks about the importance of hearing local history from local people, if possible by visiting the sites of significance. He discusses how important this was for him as a young Māori growing up in a city where there was early conflict. Arapeta suggests that teachers build a relationship with local marae to ask kaumātua and kuia to help in setting up the process for hearing these important stories from the past.

Professional learning conversations

  1. Arapeta suggests that teachers go to marae to ask kaumātua and kuia for help. Sometimes there are protocols around the sharing of stories with schools. What are the protocols and networks  you need to set up in your area and school to make sharing stories and information easy for teachers and local Māori?

  2. Should young people be able to challenge local histories told by local people? How can this be done respectfully?  How can local histories told to young people at school become part of the formal curriculum discourse? Who owns local histories and stories?

The first time I found out about the Battle of Moutoa was in year 9 here. And at the beginning of the year, they had a day where it was just the year 9s and the year 13s and we went down to Pākaitore, otherwise known as Moutoa Gardens, which was first sort of founded as a memorial to the Battle of Moutoa. And they have statues of Te Rangihiwinui, Te Keepa, who was a famous Māori military leader of the time, who fought for the British. I found that interesting, and then as I moved on to do Level 1 history we focused in on it a lot more and I learnt more about the details of the battle and, you know, the motivation for the battle.

My family's from Ngāti Porou so in terms of iwi I didn’t have any connection, but I’ve lived in Whanganui all my life, so that’s been a big part of who I am and it’s always interested me, the history of Whanganui. The big advantage to local history is that there’s, in terms of resources, there are so many that are readily available. Like I know that there are living ancestors of people who fought in that battle and there are people who still hold the medals that were awarded to famous leaders and fighters. And there’s a degree of interest when you find out that this battle that you know changed the face of the town you live in, happened 60 kilometres up the river.

I think if I had advice to give teachers or students who wanted to study local history in their own sort of town or their own province, my advice to them I guess, would be, don’t be afraid to go to local marae and ask the kaumātua and kuia about the local history, because there’s a whole vault, I guess, of oral history there that’s hundreds of years old that could be tapped into and there could be some great resources there.