Te Whiti o Rongomai "My name is taken from the hill Puke Te Whiti (which stands as a sentinel guarding the past, the present and the future). Like Puke Te Whiti, I stand as a sentinel - not one bit of land will be given over to strangers with my consent."
Parihaka Pa This gathering of people at Parihaka was photographed in the 1880s. Such events have been taking place since the Taranaki wars of the 1860s. At that time the Parihaka leaders Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi set up a regular forum called Tekau mā waru (‘The Eighteenth’) which still takes place on the 18th and 19th of each month. This was an opportunity for people to talk about strategies, thoughts and visions for the future.
Troops waiting to advance In 1881 over 1,500 troops were sent to destroy the Taranaki village of Parihaka. Parihaka was the centre of a peaceful movement to resist the European occupation of confiscated Māori land. This photograph shows members of the armed constabulary awaiting orders to advance on the settlement.
Timeline 1862 Te Whiti and his people saved people from a ship that wrecked off the Coast – they ensured they got safe passage through tribal lands to New Plymouth.
Timeline 1863 Suppression of Rebellion Act Defined Maori fighting for their land as rebels, who could be detained indefinitely, without trial
Timeline 1863 New Zealand Settlements Act Authorised the government to confiscate any land where Maori were considered to be in rebellion – the government then took 3 million acres, mostly in Taranaki and Waikato
Timeline 1870s Surveyors started carving up Waimate plains for settlers from Canterbury and Manawatu
Timeline 1879 Te Whiti started non-violent resistance to government surveying: "Go, put your hands to the plough. Look not back. If any come with guns and swords, be not afraid. If they smite you, smite not in return. If they rend you, be not discouraged. Another will take up the good work. If evil thoughts fill the minds of the settlers, and they flee from their farms to the town as in the war of old, enter not you into their houses, touch not their goods nor their cattle. My eye is over all." During that period of non-violent unrest, hundreds of Maori were arrested and kept in prison without trial.
Timeline 1880 Parihaka became a stronghold of Maori opposition to the loss of tribal lands, which arose from Crown legislation: "Though some, in darkness of heart, seeing their land ravished, might wish to take arms and kill the aggressors, I say it must not be. Let not the Pakehas (sic) think to succeed by reason of their guns... I want not war, but they do. The flashes of their guns have singed our eyelashes, and yet they say they do not want war... The government come not hither to reason, but go to out-of-the-way places. They work secretly, but I speak in public so that all may hear “
1881 Invasion & Exile The conflicts between the people of Parihaka and the settler- backed government came to a head in 1881. On 19 October, Native Affairs Minister William Rolleston signed a proclamation to invade Parihaka. On 5 November 1881, the peaceful village was invaded by 1500 volunteers and members of the Armed Constabulary. The soldiers were welcomed by the 2000 people of Parihaka, children came out skipping, soldiers were offered food and drink and adults allowed themselves to be arrested without protest. The Riot Act was read and an hour later Te Whiti and Tohu were led away to a mock trial. The leaders of Parihaka along with hundreds of their people were imprisoned in the South Island, many in freezing cold caves where they died from exposure, disease and malnutrition. The destruction of Parihaka began immediately. It took the army two weeks to pull down the houses and two months to destroy the crops. Women and girls were raped leading to an outbreak of syphilis in the community. People suspected of being from other areas of the country were thrown out. Thousands of cattle, pigs and horses were slaughtered and confiscated. Fort Rolleston was built on a tall hill in the village; four officers and seventy soldiers garrisoned it. The five-year Military occupation of Parihaka had begun.
Prisoners Return Parihaka was rebuilt, and those who had been arrested and imprisoned later returned. This photograph of 1898 shows a pōwhiri (welcome) for some of these men.
Rebuilding Parihaka In 1883 the Parihaka leaders were escorted back to Parihaka. On his arrival home Te Whiti was assaulted by soldiers for refusing to accept an order not to resume the monthly meetings. He resumed the 18th meetings immediately and used them to mount further protest action on confiscated land. In 1886 he was imprisoned again along with Titokowaru his protest companion. Days before Te Whiti was released in 1888 his wife and mother of his children Hikurangi died, he was not allowed to return for her tangihanga (funeral). He returned to Parihaka in 1888 with his future son in law Tāre Waitara. The modernisation of Parihaka continued at a great pace. Elaborate guesthouses were built complete with hot and cold running water. Streets, lighting and drainage were constructed along with a bakery an abattoir shops and a Bank. Parihaka people ran agricultural contracts throughout Taranaki sowing seed, cropping and labouring. On the 12th of July 1898 the last of the Parihaka prisoners returned to a heroes welcome at Parihaka. Their release brought to an end 19 years of imprisonments of Parihaka men and boys. Parihaka was described in the 1890’s and again in 1902 as being ahead or in line with the most advanced municipal developments in the country. The Parihaka leaders Te Whiti and Tohu died during the year 1907. The community faced poverty by the 1930’s as its land estate was carved up for disposal to Europeans. The Government offered suspensory loans to those who wanted it and they paid nothing for the land itself but these schemes were available only to Europeans.
The Legacy A leader so inspiring he was able to encourage men with warrior hearts to stand up for their rights, while laying down their weapons. This same man convinced 2000 people to welcome battle-thirsty soldiers into their village, and even offer them food and drink. This peaceful leader allowed himself and his people to be arrested without showing the slightest shrug of resistance.
Parihaka Today Parihaka Pa still stands The whanau of Parihaka host an International Peace Festival every year Parihaka has been the venue for a number of important national Maori hui, including in 2005, the presenting evidence on Crown breaches of Indigenous Peoples Rights to a representative from the United Nations
More Information Parihaka Peace Festival Parihaka: The Art of Peaceful Resistance (exhibition website):Parihaka: The Art of Peaceful Resistance The Pacifist of Parihaka (Puke Ariki cultural centre website):The Pacifist of Parihaka Taranaki Reports (Waitangi Tribunal)Taranaki Reports Taranaki Stories (Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of NZ)Taranaki Stories Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust Maori and the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
He Whakatauki KO TE PO TE KAIHARI I TE RA KO TE MATE TE KAIHARI I TE ORANGA NIGHT IS THE BRINGER OF DAY DEATH IS THE BRINGER OF LIFE - na Te Whiti me Tohu