Parihaka is an important event in New Zealand’s history. Aurelia Arona – formerly our Kaitakawaenga and now Māori Liaison Librarian at the University of Canterbury – described it thus:
The community at Parihaka grew following the land wars and as a result of the “confiscation” of land (often enabled legally through the Government passing legislation) in the Taranaki area. In addition to the continuing land grab, the government of the time also failed to set aside the reserve land it had promised to the local peoples. In response to this, the citizens of Parihaka lead by the prophets, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi established a movement of peaceful resistance to protest the actions of the Crown. Government officials feared that Parihaka might well incite more iwi to rebel against Government policies and set about destroying the peaceful resistance movement by means of an armed invasion and the destruction of the settlement of Parihaka.
It is said that on the day of the invasion the soldiers were greeted by singing children (tātarakihi) and the followers of Te Whiti and Tohu put up no resistance. Many of the men involved in the peaceful resistance movement were detained- some were imprisoned for years without trial and were transported to prisons in the South Island or sentenced to hard manual labour in places like Dunedin, where they built many of the buildings and roads. Some of them would perish here from tuberculosis.
Read our page on Parihaka in which we link to books and other resources.