2010 - 2011
The concept of a national day of commemoration for the New Zealand Wars was first discussed in the Waipa District Council Chambers in Te Awamutu, July 2010. As part of the framing of the Battle of O-Rākau Heritage Society constitution, discussions took place between the founders of the Society which centred upon the need to acknowledge all those who fought and fell in the wars of the early colonial period, not just in the three-day battle of O-Rākau in 1864 (the last of the Waikato War conflicts). Advocating for a national commemoration day was adopted and written into the Society constitution which was ratified in 2011.
2012 - 2016
During the annual commemorations at O-Rākau from 2012 to 2016, the concept of a national day was promoted heavily and socialised across many other commemoration sites across the country and with iwi leaders.
The 150th (Sesquicentennial) anniversary of O-Rākau in 2014 provided an opportunity to present the case for a national commemoration day before the Prime Minister, John Key, Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, the Maori King Tuheitia Paki, Members of Parliament, iwi leaders and 3,500 other attendees.
The same year Otorohanga College students were so moved by a visit to the old site they took it upon themselves to champion a petition of 12,000 signatures to Parliament, creating further headline news and publicity.
The Iwi Leaders Forum also took up the call and formalised their tautoko for the concept of a national day.
In 2016, Minister for Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell secured funding of $4 million over four years to support commemoration activities for the New Zealand (Land) Wars.
In September 2016 a national hui to discuss commemoration sites took place at Mangatoatoa Marae in Kihikihi (Maniapoto). The purpose of the hui was to discuss and clarify matters relating to the national commemoration and the fund. The date of 28 October was designated the official commemoration date. This coincides with the date the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1835.
In June 2017, the first round for the Rā Maumahara – New Zealand Wars Commemorations Fund will open. Applicants will be able to apply for funding to support national commemoration events as well as regional commemorative events.
The first commemorations will take place on 28 October 2017 in Te Taitokerau. Commemorations will then move from region to region each year.