‘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

Librarians recommend: Books about Parihaka

There are a number of excellent resources available if you’d like to learn more about the 1881 invasion of the Parihaka settlement by Government forces, the aftermath and ongoing legacy of this event. Whether you want something that’s suitable for children, a fictional account or well-researched history on the topic, our library collection has got you covered.

For Kids

Cover of Remember that NovemberMaumahara ki tērā Nōema and Remember that November

This pair of children’s books written by Jennifer Beck and illustrated Lindy Fisher, with the Teo Reo translation done by Kawata Teepa. They look at what happened at Parihaka through the frame of a school speech contest.

I really like that they are companion volumes, with the same beautiful illustrations, and that the Gunpowder Plot and the climactic day at Parihaka both 5th November are compared and contrasted. The murderous intent of those who wanted, in their anger and frustration, to blow up the Houses of Parliament is juxtaposed with the calm and dignified passive resistance of the people of Parihaka. Simple but hugely powerful, these two books are a great introduction to a hugely important New Zealand historical event and hanging it off an event in British history creates another level of interest.

Fiction

Parihaka Woman Cover of The Parihaka womanby Witi Ihimaera

Written in 2011, this novel weaves fact and fiction together to tell the story of Erenora, a young woman living in Parihaka at the times of the invasion and land confiscation. It is also told from the perspective of a retired teacher, who is researching his whanau and comes across Erenora’s story.

Because of the two stories, and points of view changing, it can be a little tricky to get your head around at times, but I think it’s worth persevering. Erenora’s journey to the South Island in search of her husband, who has been taken prisoner after the massacre is a touching and descriptive and I learnt a lot about how life was for both Māori and Pakehā in those early years of our nation.

It certainly paints a brutal picture of the events of Parihaka and allowed me to get a sense of the injustice and upheaval during this not so proud part of our past.

This book can be found in both the Nga Pounamu Māori collection and in Young Adult, so recommended to YA readers looking for books for NCEA reading as well.

Parihaka in Art

Parihaka, the art of passive resistanceCover of Parihaka: The art of passive resistance

Parihaka is paradoxically one of the most shameful episodes and one of the most remarkable and enduring stories in New Zealand’s colonial history.

This ground-breaking publication brings together art, poetry and waiata from the past 100 years. It features over 100 artworks that explores the legacy of Parihaka and its leaders, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi. It draws on teachings and sayings of Te Whiti and Tohu, in Māori and English, many of which have been previously unpublished and are here now reproduced in full. Artists include Shane Cotton, Tama Iti, Tim Finn (with that classic song), Tony Fomison, Colin McCahon and Ralph Hotere to name a few.

This is a collaboration between City Gallery, Wellington from their 2000-01 exhibition, The Trustees of Parihaka Pā and Victoria University Press.

This was a winner of the 2001 winner of Montana New Zealand Book Awards

Parihaka in History

Ask that mountainCover of Ask that mountain

Originally published in 1975, journalist and historian Dick Scott broke new ground with Ask that Mountain. This book draws on official papers, settler manuscripts and oral histories to give the first complete account of what took place at Parihaka. This illustrated seminal work was named by the Sunday Star Times in 1995 as one of the 10 most important books published in New Zealand.

This will not be an easy read as events are recounted. There is violence and oppression but ultimately it is a compelling story of an important event in New Zealand’s past.

Parihaka album : lest we forget Cover of The Parihaka album

I have let quotes from the author do all the talking with this title.

“It is about the forgotten stories, blind spots and hidden corners that I encountered in the history-making about the Crown’s 1881 invasion of Parihaka Pā, a non-violent settlement in Taranaki. This invasion is one of the most troubling, significant and well-known events in the short shared history of Māori and Pākehā, yet is easily overlooked.” -Rachel Buchanan.

“The story of Parihaka did not end with the 1881 invasion or the 1907 deaths of its two leaders – Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi. It is difficult, impossible even, to find the place to put the final full stop to the story of this place, or the stories of many of Aotearoa New Zealand’s other trouble spots. Our world is saturated with the unfinished past, and yet it is so easy to be blind to it all, to pretend that the past is not really there at all and none of these disturbing things really happened. Open your eyes! Come with me on a road trip into the present past.” -Rachel Buchanan.

“After growing up in Taranaki, doing a Phd on Parihaka and now writing a book, I know a lot about the place but I’ve still got a lot to learn. Parihaka is a story that got under my skin I guess when I was a school-kid, but my biggest inspiration was the big art show at City Gallery in 2000-2001. It was awe-inspiring and I wanted to know more about a place that could inspire so much passion. Now, nine years later, I think I understand!” –Rachel Buchanan

Cover of Contested ground: Te whenua i toheaContested ground. Te Whenua i Tohea : the Taranaki Wars, 1881

Kelvin Day brings together eleven distinguished academics and historians who provide fresh and engaging insights into this turbulent period, much sourced from previously overlooked material, and a remarkable collection of photographs and illustrations. It includes the chapter A new kind of resistance: Parihaka and the struggle for peace by Historian Hazel Riseborough.

Cover of Te Whiti o Rongomai

Te Whiti o Rongomai by Danny Keenan

“People need to know what happened at Parihaka”, according to Kaumatua Rangikotuku Rukuwai.

This was the main motivation behind Dr Danny Keenan’s decision to write a book about the life of its prophet Te Whiti o Rongomai.

Inspired by his chats with Rangikotuku (Te Whiti’s great grandson) and his wife Ngaraiti over cups of tea at their New Plymouth home, Keenan revived the idea he had for the book back in the early 2000s. The book documents the roles both Te Whiti and fellow prophet Tohu Kākahi played in the creating the reputation of Parihaka as a place of peace.

The book details the events leading up to the invasion of 1881 and the arrest and imprisonment of the two men and is peppered with drawings from the time period, photographs, both old and new and accounts from people there at the time, and memories of whanau. It also traces the life of Te Whiti from Ngā Motu, where he was born, to his settling at Parihaka and his evolving sense of the injustices and disempowerment Māori experienced and his response to these.

This is a fascinating perspective of Parihaka. Author Danny Keenan has ancestral connections to Parihaka and the interviews he did with descendants whose oral histories of the injustices, shed a unique light on a history.

The book received a well deserved win in the  2016 Massey University, Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards.

More on Parihaka

Parihaka and the “civilising influence” of Christchurch

In November 1881 the Māori settlement of Parihaka in Taranaki was invaded by government troops. The aim was to end a campaign of civil disobedience that had been taking place since 1879 and which was in response to government confiscations of Māori land. This armed constabulary of over 1,500 arrested large numbers of people including leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi.

Parihaka [1881 or later]
Messenger, Arthur Herbert, 1877-1962. Artist unknown :Parihaka [1881 or later?]. Ref: B-081-007. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22750559
Among the armed constabulary force was Harry Ell. The Christchurch conservationist and politician is best remembered as the man behind the Summit Road and its rest-houses such as Sign of the Takahe. In later years he reflected that the actions of government troops had ‘brought about the bitterness and estrangement between the two races’.

Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi in Christchurch

Without standing trial Te Whiti and Tohu were brought to Christchurch and imprisoned at Addington Gaol, though they were allowed out on a number of excursions to the Kaiapoi Woollen Mills, Canterbury Museum, Addington Railway workshops, the Cathedral and even the theatre. At least some of the motivation for these trips seems to have been to promote the benefits of Pākehā civilisation as illustrated by Christchurch’s industries and institutions.

“Te Whiti and Tohu were taken over the Kaiapoi factory to-day, where their eyes were opened to a still wider extent as to the power of the pakeha.” North Otago Times, 18 May 1882

Both prisoners were treated as oddities and objects of curiosity by Cantabrians. In numerous newspaper reports of the day local people are described as gathering in crowds to gawk at them at every occasion – from their first appearance off the ship at Lyttelton, to a visit to the Exhibition, to their arrival off the train at Ashburton.

Although they were clearly a cause célèbre, the way they are described in reports demonstrates the prejudices and expectations that Christchurch people had of their “exotic” visitors.

“The organ in the Cathedral was also a novelty to them, and caused much amusement to the untutored minds of the Maori chiefs.” “Christchurch”, The Colonist, 5 May 1882

“The bearing of Tohu and Te Whitiaccording to people who have seen them robed in a blanket, loses considerably when they don the everyday dress of the pakeha and wear heavy boots.” “Te Whiti and Tohu at The Exhibition”The Star, 6 May 1882

New Zealand International Exhibition, Hagley Park, Christchurch [1882]
New Zealand International Exhibition, Hagley Park, Christchurch [1882], File Reference: CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0008
Imagine waiting expectantly in a crowd to see two Māori chiefs, only for them to appear wearing trousers and boots! Even from the distance of over 100 years the disappointment is palpable.

An end to imprisonment

Both Te Whiti and Tohu were released in March 1883 still without having stood trial, despite Government having passed the West Coast Peace Preservation Act 1882 which allowed for them to be imprisoned indefinitely.

They returned to Taranaki to rebuild the settlement at Parihaka (which had been destroyed following the invasion). The rebuilt settlement included modern conveniences such as a piped water suppy and electricity.

Both Tohu and Te Whiti continued to organise campaigns of protest upon their return to Taranaki. Many other prisoners remained in jails in the South Island, including in Dunedin. The last Parihaka prisoners were released in 1898.

Parihaka remembrance in Lyttelton

There will be a gathering at The Rose Garden for a small service followed by light refreshments back at Lyttelton Community House.

Saturday 5th November, 2pm – 4pm

Find out more about Parihaka

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

Commemorating peaceful protest – Parihaka

Human beings. We can be a bit disappointing sometimes can’t we? We’re often very easily swayed by things that are bright and shiny rather than other more meaningful things.

FireworksTake for instance the event we usually commemorate on 5 November, Guy Fawkes Day. Four hundred years ago in England a group of people plotted to blow up the King and Parliament. The plot was foiled and Fawkes (among others) was caught , tried and executed.
And this would probably be no more than a barely remembered fact from high school history class if explosives weren’t involved. Because we love a bit of a fireworks display, we choose to remember, remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.

Parihaka, a very different kind of protest, doesn’t get as much attention even though it’s far more recent and took place in our own country.

Parihaka by Josiah Martin, [ca 1880]
Parihaka by Josiah Martin, [ca 1880], Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Accession No. 1997/34/7
The Māori settlement of Parihaka, Taranaki was home to around 2000 people. In the wake of the Land Wars many Māori had become dispossessed as the Government of the time had undertaken “confiscations” of land. A movement to resist this acquisition and occupation of Māori land had grown, but rather than warfare, peaceful means were used to undermine Government “ownership” of disputed lands. Surveyor pegs were removed, fences were built, fields were ploughed.

By 1881 the Government determined that this peaceful but disruptive protest should come to an end, so on 5 November a militia and armed constabulary of 1500 men invaded the settlement of Parihaka. They were met without resistance. The settlement, and its surrounding crops were eventually destroyed. The leaders of the movement  Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi were sent south and jailed, as were a number of men, some of whom never returned.

So, in both cases the Government of the day is accused of injustice – one group chooses a violent protest, the other a peaceful one – but it’s the former that we commemorate. Hmmm. Interesting.

But should you want to pay tribute to the fearless, peaceful protestors of Parihaka you have the opportunity. Lyttelton Community House invite you to attend their Annual Parihaka Remembrance service. This will be held on Thursday, 5th November, 10am at the Lyttelton Rose Garden – (Former Gaol site). From there you are also invited to attend a second service that will be held at the memorial stone next to the church at Rapaki at 11am. Light refreshments will be served afterwards. Please phone Christine on 741-1427 if you require further information.

Or at the very least, you could spend Thursday humming this pop classic by Tim Finn.

Remembering Parihaka – 5 November 1881

Parihaka is an important event in New Zealand’s history.  The Taranaki settlement of Parihaka showed peaceful resistance to a militia invasion on 5 November 1881.  This self-sufficient community was made up of Māori who had become dispossessed during the land conflicts and was led by two prophets – Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi.

Commemorate Parihaka at Lyttelton

Lyttelton Community House wish to invite you to attend the Annual Parihaka Remembrance service. This will be held on Wednesday 5 November, 10am at the Lyttelton Rose Garden – (Former Gaol site). From there you are also invited to attend a second service that will be held at the memorial stone next to the church at Rapaki. Light refreshments will be served after this in Lyttelton at Community House, 7 Dublin Street. Please phone Christine on 7411427 if you require further information.

Management Committee, Parihaka Pa. Collis, William Andrews, 1853-1920 :Negatives of Taranaki. Ref: 10x8-1752-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22727187
Management Committee, Parihaka Pa. Collis, William Andrews, 1853-1920 :Negatives of Taranaki. Ref: 10×8-1752-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22727187

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.

Photo of NZ Armed Constabulary at Parihaka.
NZ Armed Constabulary at Parihaka. Cowan, James, 1870-1943 :Collection of photographs. Ref: 1/1-017952-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23057608

The Christchurch connection

Often thoCover of Remember that Novemberse who were caught engaging in these activities were arrested and imprisoned without trial in South Island prisons in Dunedin, Lyttelton (Ripapa Island) and Hokitika. Here they were used as labourers on projects like the building of Dunedin’s harbour walls. In Dunedin, the harsh conditions under which they were jailed meant that many of these prisoners died, mainly from tuberculosis. The last prisoners were released in 1898.

The leaders Tohu and Te Whiti were exiled for two years and interned at Addington gaol. During that time, they were shown the Kaiapoi Woollen Mills, Christchurch Railway workshops, ChristChurch Cathedral and Canterbury Museum in an attempt by officials to demonstrate the advanced technology and power of the pakeha.

Christchurch man Harry Ell, who was most notable for his involvement in creating the Summit Road, was part of the armed constabulary that invaded Parihaka in 1881.

 

Pictures of Parihaka

Management Committee, Parihaka Pa. Collis, William Andrews, 1853-1920 :Negatives of Taranaki. Ref: 10x8-1752-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22727187
Management Committee, Parihaka Pa. Collis, William Andrews, 1853-1920 :Negatives of Taranaki. Ref: 10×8-1752-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22727187

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.

Photo of NZ Armed Constabulary at Parihaka.
NZ Armed Constabulary at Parihaka. Cowan, James, 1870-1943 :Collection of photographs. Ref: 1/1-017952-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23057608

Cover of Remember that NovemberRead our page on Parihaka in which we link to books and other resources.

DigitalNZ links you to images and text on Parihaka including this Parihaka set.

A great recent addition to is Remember that November (also published in Te Reo) which tells the Parihaka story for a younger audience.

Commemorate Parihaka in Christchurch

Peaceful resistance to a militia invasion began in the Taranaki settlement of Parihaka on 5 November 1881. This year there are events in Christchurch commemorating this historical event.
PDF of Parihaka commemorations in Christchurch

PARIHAKA COMMEMORATIONS

4 & 5 November 2013

Christchurch Otautahi Commemorations

Monday 4 November

6.30 – 7.15pm Jailhouse Backpackers, 338 Lincoln Rd
Free tours of Addington Jail where Tohu and Te Whiti were imprisoned.

7.30 – 8.00pm Addington Coffee Co-op, 297 Lincoln Rd.
Parihaka slides/music/poetry
8.00 – 8.30pm Guest Speaker: Ruakere Hond from Parihaka
8.30 – 9.00pm Discussion

Tuesday 5 November

7.00 – 8.15pm Transitional Cathedral, 220 Hereford St.

The film Tātarakihi: The Children of Parihaka followed by a discussion with Ruakere Hond

Information from Parihaka Committee (Otautahi).

Fireworks and Pacifism – Parihaka, 5 November 1881

5th November. What does this date bring to mind for you? I bet some of you have been perusing the pages of a certain mailer, deliberating over which fireworks package to purchase for Family fireworks night? I imagine that for many people if they associate anything with this date it is most Guy Fawkes, who was one of the plotters and would-be perpetrators of that unsuccessful attempt at regicide in Britain on 5 November 1605 –  The Gunpowder plot.

What you may not be aware of, is that 5 November is actually a significant date in our own history here in Aotearoa.  5 November 1881 saw the armed invasion of the settlement of Parihaka in Taranaki.

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.

So there we go, a brief look at significant date in our national history. Interested in learning more?  We have a great page of resources if you’re interested in reading more.

Stuck for something to do this weekend and thinking you would like to learn more about the history of events that took place at Parihaka? This weekend in Christchurch there are screenings of the film Tātarakihi , The children of Parihaka.  A true story of war passive resistance and the children who never forgot. This film has been part of the New Zealand International Film Festival and has received rave reviews.  The website will take you through to local screening times and venues and you can view a trailer of the film as well.  I intend to get to the Sunday screening.

No doubt we will still celebrate Mr Fawkes trying to kill his King at my place this weekend,  but I think I will also look a little closer to home and remember the events of 5/11/1881 in Parihaka, Taranaki come Monday. Will you be doing anything to commemorate the 5th of November?

Remembering Parihaka – 5 November 1881

CoverParihaka was a Taranaki settlement. In the 1870s, it was the largest Māori village in New Zealand. This self-sufficient community was led by two prophets — Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi.

On 5 November 1881, it was invaded by militia and armed constabulary. The forces were greeted by peaceful residents who did not resist either invasion or arrest.

Over the next two weeks, the army demolished the settlement and eventually all crops and livestock were destroyed.

Our page on Parihaka details some of the key resources about this sad event  — and the surprising Christchurch connection.