‘Let the spirit of our ancestors remain with us forever’

We are following the footsteps of our ancestors….we remember

We, the film audience, packed into Christchurch Art Gallery’s Philip Carter Auditorium like sardines. With all 178 seats in the auditorium taken, a few stragglers were quietly seeking spare seats. I was silently congratulating myself for arriving fifteen minutes early. I’m not usually scrupulous regarding time, often throwing caution to the wind, but I had no intention of missing out on a seat. It was obvious the choice of this final film of the year by the Canterbury Film Society (CFS), in conjunction with the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust, was proving to be a crowd pleaser and I’d been waiting a long time to see it.

Before the movie screened we were warmly introduced to Parihaka kuia Maata Wharehoka who presented the film and informed us of the Q&A session she would conduct after the screening.

Tātarakihi – Children of Parihaka – is named after the tamariki of Parihaka. Known for the sound of their chattering, the tamariki have been given the name ‘tātarakihi’ (cicadas). They have a special place in the history of the village. In 1881 the children of Parihaka greeted the invading Armed Constabulary with white feathers of peace, in accord with the philosophy of passive resistance taught by their two leaders, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi. Although the film is not a complete full story, it gives us some idea of what took place.

The lights dimmed down, a cloak of anticipation wrapped us. What followed was a 63 minute, deeply moving, cinematic experience. The film highlights an emotional, modern day pilgrimage taken by tamariki of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tamarongo. They, along with some of their elders, go on a road trip by bus from Parihaka to prisons around the South Island where hundreds of their ancestors were exiled and held captive. Parihaka men who were kept captive in often appalling conditions for nineteen years and forced to labour, constructing roads and buildings around Te Waka a Maui, the South Island. The tātarakihi also visit marae that took prisoners under their wing and urupā where tūpuna tāne are buried.

On their journey South prisoners were taken across Te-Moana-o-Raukawa/Cook Strait held captive in the hold of a ship. When the sea became rough, the ship was too heavy. Men were thrown overboard and warned they would be shot if they attempted to escape. Several drowned.

Back in Parihaka the Crown’s abuse continued. Within weeks crops were destroyed, stock killed, homes blazed to the ground. The colossal land grabbing ogre was alive and ravenous.

As much as this brilliant movie is a tribute to the tūpuna whose lives were sacrificed and the Parihaka Survivors of Peace, it is also very much the children’s stories. Narrated by the tātarakihi, footage of their hikoi is interwoven with their poetry, song, art and narration.This film is an inspiring and successful undertaking which educates the viewer and informs the unknowing about a deeply meaningful aspect of New Zealand’s cruel history – the Parihaka story and Taranaki land Confiscations of the 1860s.

When the movie ended, the crowd sat speechless for a moment or two. Before the resounding din of clapping filled the theatre. The next hour was spent asking questions and having them answered by Maata. In the end Māori were called to the front. She shared that many of us would have had our own tūpuna incarcerated from Parihaka. A hīmene was suggested. The whole audience stood and joined in.

Everyone joins in with the hīmene after the screening of the film

I left the theatre with red eyes. I suspect many others did also.

Since viewing ‘Tātarakihi – Children of Parihaka’ I’ve spoken to many people about the film. It’s astonishing how many folks know nothing about the Parihaka story. In fact, not a single one I’ve spoken with.

Christchurch City Libraries offers several fascinating books, for both young and old, that relate to this piece of our history. One can even listen to some music.

Repeat screening: Tātarakihi – The Children of Parihaka

Tātarakihi – The children of Parihaka is not available on DVD so can only be viewed at special cinema screenings. The next screening is at 2pm, Sunday, 5 November 2017 at Christchurch Art Gallery. No bookings, koha at the door.

Find out more about Parihaka

On our website

In our catalogue

Cover of Ask that Mountain Cover of Te Whiti o Rongomai and the resistance of Parihaka Cover of Remember that November / Maumahara ki tērā Nōema

Mai rānō – Way back when…

Nau mai e ngā hua o te wao
o te ngakina
o te wai tai
o te wai Māori
Nā Tāne
Nā Rongo
Nā Tangaroa
Nā Maru
Ko Ranginui e tū iho nei
Ko Papatūānuku e takoto nei
Tūturu whakamaua kia tina
Tina, haumi ē, hui ē, tāiki ē!

Welcome the gifts of food,
from the sacred forests,
from the cultivated gardens,
from the sea,
from the fresh waters.
The food of Tāne,
of Rongo,
of Tangaroa,
of Maru. 
I acknowledge Ranginui above me,
Papatūānuku who lies beneath. 
Let this be my commitment to them all!

Janna with some ponga ferns

Growing up in the 60s the tamariki in my whānau worked alongside our mum and dad. Together we worked on our market gardens in Tāmaki Makaurau. West Auckland. Every day, rain, hail or shine the whole whānau would be out there, doing our bit. Mahi Māra. Working in the garden.

Dad would rise at 4am and start his mahi for the day. We’d watch him spray with water the packed produce in their wooden apple boxes. Then he’d lift the load onto the small wooden deck of our taraka. A tiny Morris Minor 1000. After parakuihi – breakfast, we’d scramble aboard, each choosing an apple box to ride within. Dad would light his ciggie and settle in behind the drivers’ wheel. While the rest of the world was still sleeping we’d fly through the streets on our trusty wooden steeds towards the tense and bustling world of the early morning markets. Turner’s and Growers. Downtown Auckland.

I can still hear the screech of the karoro and tarāpunga as they greeted the fishing boats. Just like me, the gulls delighted in the early morning commotion. He kanohi kitea te karawhiu. To see their little faces every morning was the norm.

After the morning’s auctions we would return home to get ready for school, perhaps with a box of apples, bananas or oranges, sometimes even a crate of watermelon. All kai was shared with our whānau whānui, our extended whānau. The māra was our life, we lived according to the seasons and according to how well our produce sold.

Dad, being an immigrant from Naples, Italy, grew exotic huawhenua. Vegetables such as Capsicum, Spinach, Aubergine, Italian Parsley, Radish, Globe Artichoke, Acid Free Italian tomatoes, Basil, Garlic. He even harvested the marrows before they grew to their full size. Unheard of in those days, we now have a name for immature marrows. Courgettes. Occasionally, for lunch, dad would snap a few flowers off the marrow plant, heat some olive oil in our dinged up fry pan and after sautéing garlic he would add the beautiful yellow flowers for 2-3 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt. Courgette Napolitano style! Kai tino pai!

Mum, on the other hand, introduced us to kaimoana. We never went hungry with the bountiful Waitematā Harbour on our back doorstep. In the weekends or after school, up onto the tray of our taraka, along with e toru ngā kuri, our three dogs Sookie, Andy and Prince, us kids would jump and off to the beach we’d head. No problem if we forgot our kete. Plenty of harakeke growing on the side of the road. If need be, we’d pull over beside a flax bush and mum would whip up a kete to carry our kaimoana. Pipi, Toheroa , Kina, Kūtai, Pūpū,Tio repe. Sometimes we’d take a line and catch a tāmure or two. In those days the sea was clean and kaimoana was abundant. On the way home we’d stop again for a dose of Kawakawa. No one escaped chewing and swallowing the bitter green medicinal leaf.

Janna’s cat Buddy supervises some peastraw.

These memories, although more than fifty years old, are part of the essence that informs my love of gardening today. Ia rā, ia rā, everyday I garden with my cat Buddy. My love of the sea and all that resides within it is tino hōhonu. Deep and profound.

For those of you who love gardening as well, check out our seed swap

Try browsing these lists of my favourite Mahi Māra and Rongoā Māori pukapuka!

Janna Russo,
Network Library Assistant

Mahi māra – Gardening – A labour of love

What a dismal day it was here in Ōtautahi the other Sunday. Raining and cold. I really did not feel like going outside and working in the māra. However, the day was clearing and I had my Pirita to sow.

Seeds
Pirita/green mistletoe seeds

In an effort to boost diversity and bring native birds back into the city, Christchurch City Council have launched a Citizen Science Project. The Backyard Mistletoe Project is a city wide project that encourages people to sow native mistletoe in their backyards. 9000 Pirita seeds have been harvested from Banks Peninsula and distributed to 450 eager Christchurch gardeners.

Each gardener has registered with CCC and has committed to sowing and monitoring 20 seeds. With a success rate of 5% we will be lucky if one plant germinates from 20 seeds.

My friend Sally and I registered. She collected our seeds from the Botanic Gardens. They had to be sown the following day. So out into the cold, wet garden I traipsed looking for bare branches of appropriate host trees to sow these tiny taonga.

Buddy
Unhelpful gardening pal

Meanwhile, my devoted little gardening pal Buddy Boy elected to remain inside. Curled up tight, asleep on the bed.

Although seed sowing registration has now closed, anyone interested can still register online to follow the projects progress.

More information

Parihaka – We look for Peace and we find War

“Taking as their symbol the white feather, the chiefs Te Whiti and Tohu led Parihaka in one of the worlds first-recorded campaigns of passive resistance”

                                                                                   Ask That Mountain – Dick Smith

coverParihaka settlement lies in the Taranaki region of Aotearoa, located between Mount Taranaki and the Tasman Sea. In the late 1800s, Parihaka was reputed to be the largest Māori village in New Zealand with a population of about 1500 and was described as the most populous and prosperous Māori settlement in the country. Parihaka had its own police force, bakery and bank and used advanced agricultural machinery. The village was founded in about 1866 by Māori chiefs Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi on land seized by the government during the unlawful post war land confiscations of the 1860s.

Parihaka, the principal Maori stronghold in New Zealand, is an enormous native town of quite an imposing character….I never before saw such number of Maoris. It was such a picturesque sight, such gay colours, fine-looking men and pretty girls.

– Mary Dobie, The Graphic, 1881

                                                                           – Ask That Mountain – Dick Scott

At dawn on 5 November 1881, 1600 troops and militia entered the Parihaka settlement, many on horseback. Although troops were met by hundreds of tamariki skipping, singing and offering food they, nevertheless, continued with their attack. In her book Days of Darkness on page 218, historian Hazel Riseborough claims:

“Europeans were concerned about their superiority and dominance which, it seemed to them, could be assured only by destroying Te Whiti’s mana. As long as he remained at Parihaka he constituted a threat to European supremacy in that he offered his people an alternative to the way of life the European sought to impose on them.”

The military assault on Parihaka with all its ensuing atrocities mark the 5th November, for many, as being the blackest day in New Zealands history.

The following 30 minute Photographic Survey was produced by Taranaki Museum in 1981

Ngā Tākaro Māori – Māori games

Ki-o-Rahi is the original Māori ball game. If you’re keen to give Ki-o-Rahi a go (or even stand on the side line and cheer) you can make your way down to The Commons Hub on Sunday October 18th for demonstrations and workshops.

Cover of Nga Taonga Takaro Cover of Games and Pastimes of the Maori Cover of Papers to conference

Find tākaro books and CDs in our collection.

Ki-o-Rahi has been revived over the past 50 years throughout Aotearoa. This game, it is said, is based on the legend of Rahitutakahina and the rescue of his wife, Tiarakurapakewa. The game tactics involve courage, stealth and ingenuity.

The game is fast-paced and played on a circular field with concentric circles. It involves two teams (each with a minimum of seven players), a central target and a small round woven ball known as a ‘ki’. Ki-o-Rahi involves running, sidestepping, being evasive with the ki, jump shots and blocking. Not to mention strategic thinking, communication and team work.

It is being taught and enjoyed by men, women and children in France, America and Europe. Māori games are definitely making a comeback. This is a powerful testament to the strength of Māori and the will to surmount the effects of colonisation.

Personally I’ve never played Ki-o-Rahi. The closest I’ve come to running fast in a team was as a teenager playing indoor basketball for Avondale College. Māori games we played included:

  • Whai – played with a long loop of flax strip, twisted and pulled to create designs,
  • Ti rakau – the use of flax flower stems that were both thrown and caught,
  • Patu ihu – a game of cards, involving a sore nose for the loser
  • and of course Kaukau Taniwha – rolling over, diving off, scrambling aboard a log that came in and out of a Piha swimming lagoon.

Just thinking about playing games makes me feel like getting out there and being active. I suppose I could play with the cats while I’m gardening after work this afternoon.

Games are part of the Māori psyche. They promote dexterity, problem solving, team work, flexibility, hand and eye coordination. We learn to think quickly and to be strong and swift in our movements. Masterfully woven into the fabric of tākaro Māori are the unique world views and oral traditions of our tupuna.

More about Tākaro Māori