Kiwis show 'disappointing' gap in Waitangi knowledge - research

New research has found more than half of Kiwis have not visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
New research has found more than half of Kiwis have not visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Photo credit: Supplied - Waitangi National Trust

With only a few days to go before Waitangi Day, new research shows Kiwis are "disappointingly" lacking in knowledge of the history behind the holiday.

The study, released on Thursday, by the Waitangi National Trust reveals more than half of Kiwis have never visited Waitangi Treaty Grounds and 40 percent rate their knowledge of what took place there as five or less out of 10. 

Amongst young people, the results are even lower with only 30 percent of those under 40 having visited the Treaty Grounds. 

Chief executive of Waitangi National Trust Greg McManus says the study should serve as a wake-up call to Kiwis to take a look at the history in their own backyard.

"It is disappointing to find that over half of New Zealanders have not visited this country's most historic site while just over one in three have visited Stonehenge, the Acropolis or the Colosseum, all World Heritage Sites on the other side of the planet."

He says with overseas travel off the agenda due to COVID-19 it's the "perfect" time to visit New Zealand's historical sites.

The study suggests perceptions that New Zealand history is uninspiring may be the reason for the lack of knowledge surrounding Waitangi. 

While 63 percent of respondents say they want to know more, only 52  percent disagree that New Zealand history is boring. 

Although the study also found that 77 percent of Kiwis claim to be history buffs with visiting a historical site coming in second only to the traditional beach holiday in the list of Kiwis first choices for a holiday activity.  

McManus says the Waitangi National Trust is on a mission to counter the perceptions of the country's history being "boring" by ramping up technology to bring history to life in an exciting way. 

"For those who have not visited Waitangi in a while, we want them to know that a lot has changed."

The site welcomed a new contemporary museum in 2020, Te Rau Aroha - Museum of the Price of Citizenship.

Te Rau Aroha tells the story of the Māori commitment to the New Zealand armed forces with a strong focus on the Pioneer battalion of World War I and the 28 (Māori) Battalion of World War II.