About Our Truth, Tā Mātou Pono

A tapestry of stories to challenge the Eurocentric narrative

Aotearoa New Zealand has a rich history most of us know very little about.

It is a colourful flax-woven, cotton-filled, flower-embroidered, silk-threaded tapestry of stories, both challenging and inspiring, to be admired and appreciated by everyone who calls this land home.

As a nation, we don’t know enough about the stories of all our people who experienced awe, whakamā, wonder, horror, kotahitanga, broken promises, racism, tino rangatiratanga, innovation, destruction and much more throughout history.

What our tīpuna or forefathers did, or did not do, in the past is the reason for what’s happening now. If we do not reckon with their actions, our history, we cannot know what we need to determine the present and future.

The history of te ao Māori, the Māori world, and how it was replaced by the legacy of European colonisation is a  narrative we barely understand, but its consequences we live every day.

Stuff has discovered in its part two investigation – Our Truth, Tā Mātou Pono: The truth about Aotearoa – there are many stories and voices missing from our history, either deliberately excluded or not, that we need to learn about to truly understand who we are as a nation.

What history we do know was written mainly from a monocultural Western lens with little input from Māori or other minority cultures. This single lens history has legitimised and supported the prevailing Eurocentric perspective in every system governing this country.

In part one of our investigation published last year, we not only discovered the truth about Stuff, we also realised New Zealanders, in general, are ignorant about this country’s history.

Kūaretanga or ignorance makes people vulnerable to mistruths, creates falsehoods and worse, supports discrimination.

The second part of our investigation, which will be published over several months, begins on Waitangi Day. Around 50 Stuff staff are involved, including reporters, visual journalists, and production staff from across the country. This follows our 2018 campaign to back compulsory New Zealand history in schools along with calls from iwi Māori, academics, teachers and students, such as those at Ōtorohanga College.

In 2019, the Government announced Māori and New Zealand history would be compulsory and taught in all schools in 2022. The draft history curriculum was released this week for public feedback.

Our many stories include hate speech against Jews, segregation of Māori, the deadly anti-Chinese league, Wellington’s history of imported American racism such as the Ku Klux Klan, and undercover police raids against gay men.

We take a deep dive into the racist and confusing Māori land laws, find out about the ‘forever foreigner’ concept affecting migrants of colour, and discover the wider implications of the first state execution.


Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou – seek knowledge for your wellbeing.



Words: Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland: Edward Gay, Melanie Earley, Kendall Hutt, Josephine Franks, Danielle Clent, Torika Tokalau; Te Karere o Murihiku / Waikato Times: Lawrence Gullery; Te Karere o Taranaki / Taranaki Daily News: Tara Shaskey; Hau Rewa Manawatū / Manawatū Standard: Maxine Jacobs; Te Upoko-o-Te-Ika / The Dominion Post: Mandy Te, Katarina Williams, Sophie Cornish, Brittany Keogh, Laura Wiltshire, Joel MacManus, Matthew Tso, Kate Green, Georgia-May Gilbertson, Mark Pacey, Masterton historian; Te Karere o Whakatū / Nelson Mail: Skara Bohny; Te Karere o Wairau / Marlborough Express: Maia Hart; Te Matatika / The Press: Jody O’Callaghan, Joanne Naish, Hamish McNeilly; Te Karere o Te Tihi o Maru / The Timaru Herald: Esther Ashby-Coventry; Te Karere o Murihiku / The Southland Times: Georgia Weaver; National Correspondent: Charlie Mitchell

Visuals: Christel Yardley, John Bisset, Scott Hammond, Warwick Smith, Ryan Anderson, Andy Jackson, Chris McKeen, Monique Ford, Joseph Johnson, Kevin Stent, Jack Price

Design and Development: Alex Lim

Illustrations: Kathryn George, Alex Lim

Digital Producer: Sam Wilson

Print Editor: Lisa Nicolson

Projects Director: John Hartevelt

Pou Tiaki Editor: Carmen Parahi

If this story had an impact on you, please become a Stuff Supporter. Mēnā e kai ana tō ngākau i te kōrero nei, tēnā tahuri mai ki te tautoko i a Puna. Make a contribution

Stuff is committed to representing te ao Māori in our reporting and being a trusted partner for tangata whenua. Our company kaupapa has Te Tiriti o Waitangi at its core.

E manawanui ana a Puna ki te whakakanohi i te ao Māori i roto i ā mātou rongo kōrero, kia noho hoki hei hoa tata ki te tangata whenua. Kei te noho matua tonu Te Tiriti o Waitangi i te kaupapa o tō mātou kamupene.

By working together our mahi can better reflect all of Aotearoa, and help make our communities amazing places to live.

Mā te mahi tahi i ā mātou mahi e pai ake ai te kanohi kitea o Aotearoa katoa, e mīharo ai te noho papakāinga i ō tātou hapori.

If Stuff is a regular part of your day, please consider becoming a supporter. You can make a contribution from as little as $1. Be part of our story and help us tell yours.

Mēnā e rite ana tō whai i a Puna i te rā, me whai whakaaro ki te tautoko mai. Mā te aha hoki i tō paku koha mai i te $1 noa. Me piri mai ki tā mātou kaupapa, ā, mā mātou anō tāu e kōrero.

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