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

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.