Hōne Heke's flagpole-felling remembered

Sunday marks 173 years since the New Zealand Wars broke out between the British and Māori.

Official commemorations are being held this weekend in Northland, with Sunday focusing on the famous flagpole cut down by Hōne Heke.

Associate Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson says the work to bring Māori and Pākehā back together isn't over.

"How can we build a better, more tolerant society that celebrates this diversity - past, present and future? This is what we as a Government want to encourage and support."

The flagpole at Flagstaff Hill in the Bay of Islands was cut down three times by Māori upset with how they were being treated by the British. The fourth time it fell, in March 1845, war broke out.

Mr Jackson says it's a significant event to remember.

"This is not just Māori history - this is New Zealand history. This is how the nation was created."

Te Pūtake o te Riri is the first official event remembering the New Zealand Wars, taking place at Te Tii Marae at Waitangi.

"This is about a shared history, it's about our identity, it's about Māori and Pakeha understanding each other better," says Mr Jackson.

Hundreds took part in a mass haka on Friday evening.

"It's taken a long time to officially acknowledge these wars and our early history," says Pita Tipene of the organising committee Te Komiti Whakahaere.

"It has tended to be forgotten, or wilfully ignored by some, but it is important these stories are told. Our young people and future generations need to know this history because we are moving forward as a nation."

The national commemoration will be hosted by a different iwi each year, with half of the yearly fund set aside for that event.