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Saturday, 25 November 2017 04:39 pm

NZ Land Wars day announcement reminder of push for Parihaka

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Parihaka elder Te Whero o te Rangi Bailey (left) and Andrew Judd hongi at Parihaka Marae (Photo: RNZ/Robin Martin)

The announcement of a dedicated day to commemorate New Zealand land wars, starting next year is a timely reminder that Parihaka Day is still not yet a reality.

The commemoration of Parihaka Day has been called for a number of times over previous years by Māori Party leaders, former Mayor of New Plymouth Andrew Judd, and others.

They want it to replace on to replace Guy Fawkes, which marks an 1605 attempt to blow up the British parliament.

Meanwhile Parihaka remains a chapter in New Zealand’s history that many kiwis know very little about, say Marama Fox and Judd.

“A commemoration day would acknowledge publically and through legislation that Parihaka should be acknowledged prior and instead of a guy Fawkes,” says Māori Party co-Leader Fox.

On November 5 1881, 1600 police and volunteers took part in a violent attack on a settlement in Taranaki that had become the symbol of protest against the confiscation of Māori land.

The leaders of Parihaka, Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi had used non-violent non-cooperation as they tried to stop land being taken.

Parihaka was a world first in the peaceful protest movement predating Ghandi and must be acknowledged says Fox.

“The current Indian community recognised that Te Whiti o Rongomai preceded Ghandi’s peaceful protest movement and may have, through anecdotal evidence and through participation of his followers in universities in England, influenced his peaceful protest movement in India,” says Fox.

The day Parihaka was invaded the attackers were greeted by more than 2000 villagers sitting quietly, children singing and no weapons in sight.

About 1600 people were removed and spread throughout Taranaki without food or shelter, 600 residents were issued with government passes to control their movements, others were imprisoned without trial, and the village destroyed.

Peace can be easily taken for granted, lost or ignored, says Judd.

“The message of Peace was given to all mankind, and demonstrated by the actions of the prophets and people of Parihaka.

“Those peaceful actions were the true defining moment for the new, New Zealand, and took place on November the 5th 1881.

“We must equally forgive those that hurt, and harm us, but not by way of celebration, rather by way of education,” says Judd.

If New Zealand were to replace Guy Fawkes with Parihaka, then along with the national recognition would come a budget that would go towards creating school resources, says Fox.

“Let’s have some family celebrations that recognise that we want to live communally with our treaty partners on Aotearoa, celebrate a family day, celebrate a peaceful co-existence and remember what happened at Parihaka,” says Fox.

Last September Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said he was hopeful of signing an agreement and working towards a reconciliation ceremony by the end of 2016.

When approached for comment about the progress made on an apology to Parihaka, a spokesperson for the Attorney-General responded:

“An apology to the Parihaka community is of the utmost importance and must not be rushed. Currently the Government is working closely with the community on a support package and the process of reconciliation. This work continues to be a priority for the Attorney.”

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