24 Oct 2019

Parihaka reach milestone to reconcile relationship with Crown

7:28 pm on 24 October 2019

More than a hundred years since armed constabulary troops desecrated the peaceful Taranaki settlement Parihaka, the Crown is owning up to its wrongs, and the people of Parihaka are starting to heal.

About 200 people arrived at parliament today for the final reading of the Parihaka Reconciliation Bill, a law which aims to strengthen Parihaka's relationship with the Crown.

The sound of haruru, ceremonial drums, echoed across Parliament's forecourt today, as descendants of Parihaka arrived.

Their tūpuna were victims of one of the most horrific crown-invasions in Aotearoa's history.

A group of about 200 people from Parihaka at Parliament to witness Te Pire Haeata ki Parihaka (Parihaka Reconciliation Bill) being passed into law.

The ope (group) from Parihaka at Parliament this morning. Photo: RNZ / Te Aniwa Hurihanganui

Armed troops pillaged homes, raped and molested women, stole land and wrongfully imprisoned their chiefs, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi.

Ruakere Hond said the events of 1881 were still too painful for many to revisit.

"We've got generations of whānua who refuse to acknowledge the Crown in anyway because of what the Crown did, and because of the refusal of the Crown to give a decent apology of what took place in Parihaka, not just in 1881 but even before Parihaka became established.

Armed Constabulary units at Parihaka, 1881

Armed Constabulary units at Parihaka, 1881. Photo: Alexander Turnbull Library, Parihaka Album Reference: PA1-q-183-19

"The number of times the community that became Parihaka were attacked by the Crown, while they were maintaining a peaceful community."

Parihaka Papakainga Trust trustee Ruakere Hond.

Ruakere Hond. Photo: RNZ/ Robin Martin

Mr Hond said the Parihaka Reconciliation Bill was a step toward mending a fractured relationship with the Crown.

It includes $9 million, statutory protection of the name Parihaka from commercial use, and an apology.

Mohi Apau said it was now up to the Crown to ensure the relationship from here on was an enduring one.

"He aha te mahi i muri mai? koia te pātai e rere rā i roto i a mātou ... ka mutu tēnei wahanga, ko te mahi nui kei te āpōpō kei reira kē pea te piringa ka kite atu te tūhonotanga mai."

MPs in the house today acknowledged the people of Parihaka for their courage and resilience.

But the Minister of Māori Crown Relations, Kelvin Davis, said Parihaka's story did not end in 1881.

"The story of Parihaka did not finish in 1881, it did not finish in 2017 and it does not finish here today. And, as we heard Ruakere Hond say earlier afternoon, ehara tēnei ko te rangi whakamutunga, engari ko tēnei te whakamutunga o te tīmatanga."

It was an emotional day for many of Parihaka's young people too.

Kurt Komene summing up the occasion in just one word.

"Unity, unity for our people. We've waited a long time for this to happen. This is the first time we've actually come together as a maunga, as Parihaka, to come and celebrate this special day that we've been waiting for."

He said Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi would be smiling down at his people today.

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