Friday, November 6, 2015

Mike Butler: Nursing the Parihaka grudge


The Catholic Church this year used a song by Tim Finn and Herbs to teach forgiveness and reconciliation in its schools to mark November 5 as Parihaka day. But church leaders do not see that Parihaka is rooted in staunch opposition to white settlement.

November 5, 1881, was the day that government troops evicted 1600 people from a village built on confiscated land between Mount Taranaki and the Tasman Sea.

The presence of anti-government Maori leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Titokowaru at Parihaka, plus a campaign by them of ploughing up land being prepared for non-Maori settlement, attracted the crackdown.

Tim Finn recorded Parihaka with Herbs in 1989. The song is all about remembering the grievance, nursing a grudge, and vowing never to give up. There is no sign of forgiveness and reconciliation in that song. Here are some of the lyrics:
They gather still, the clouds of Taranaki,
His children's children wearing the white plume,
So take me for the sins of these sad islands,
The wave still breaks on the rock of Rouhotu.
And when you taste the salt that's on your pudding,
And when you taste the sugar in your soup,
Think of Te Whiti, he'll never be defeated,
Even at the darkest hour,
His presence will remain,
I'll sing for you a song of Parihaka,
The spirit of nonviolence,
Has come to fill the silence,
Come to Parihaka
The Catholic Church's view on Taranaki history is highly selective. It starts with settlers allegedly taking land, alludes to war, and looks back no further. Remembering Parihaka, the Caritas publication that presents the Parihaka story as forgiveness and reconciliation, says:
Aotearoa New Zealand in the second half of the 19th century was a place of war. Land was taken from Maori by new settlers through dodgy deals, false promises and by force. Many responded violently and were met with further violence. Many New Zealanders are unaware of the brutality of the fighting.
Because every year we are faced with demands about a Parihaka day, once again here are some basic facts about Taranaki history:

1. Taranaki was virtually deserted after 1830, when a large force of Taranaki fighters left the area, and after subsequent raids by Waikato fighters that meant hundreds of Taranaki people were killed and eaten, and hundreds more were driven into the Waikato as slaves.

2. Te Atiawa chief Wiremu Kingi sold Taranaki to the New Zealand Land Company in 1839.

3. In January 1841, New Zealand Company surveyors laid out New Plymouth town over 550 acres (222ha), and farms were to be laid out in over 68,500 acres (27,720ha) from New Plymouth to beyond Waitara.

4. Maori exiles began to return. In July 1842, a party drove off settlers who had taken up land north of the Waitara River. In 1843, there was a further confrontation when a hundred men, women, and children sat in the surveyors’ path.

5. In June 1844, lawyer William Spain investigated the New Zealand Company’s New Plymouth purchase, and awarded 60,500 acres (24,483ha) to the company and their settlers.

6. There was an immediate Maori protest, and a group was formed to drive out the settlers.

7. New Governor Robert FitzRoy rejected Spain’s recommendation and allotted to settlers a small block of 3500 acres (1416ha) around the township of New Plymouth and told them to leave their farms in the outlying areas.

8. The New Zealand Company complained in London, and colonial secretary Lord Stanley disapproved. FitzRoy was recalled.

9. His replacement, George Grey, was instructed to buy back for settlers the area that Spain had proposed. Missionary Samuel Ironside said that from that time New Plymouth was virtually under Maori control, and noted that “the natives had found out that by assuming a threatening attitude they could obtain any exorbitant demands”.

10. United Maori opposition to land sales appeared at a large meeting of 2000 at Manawapou near Hawera in May 1854. The “land leaguers” as they were called were willing to kill to prevent land sales. Wiremu Kingi, who had sold the whole district to the New Zealand Company 15 years earlier, was by that time chief of the land league.

11. One chief who wished to sell a block of his land was Maori magistrate Rawiri Waiaka, of the Puketapu hapu of Te Atiawa. As Rawiri, his brother Paora, and three other family members, were marking the boundaries of the block on August 3, 1854, a group of fellow Puketapu men acting for land league activist named Katatore, murdered them.

12. A feud with murders and counter murders between those who wanted to sell and those who didn’t continued until 1860.

13. Anarchy continued until March 1859, when Governor Thomas Gore Browne called a large meeting to end the fighting.

14. Waitara chief Te Teira Manuka asked Gore Browne if he would buy his land. The governor said he would so long as Teira could prove his title. Wiremu Kingi verbally objected.

15. Two commissioners spent 10 months investigating ownership of Te Teira Manuka’s 980-acre (396ha) block of land known as Pekapeka at Waitara. The government’s chief land purchase officer accepted the offer. A £100 deposit was paid.

16. The government tried to survey some of the land in February 1860 and found the block occupied by protestors, and this was considered an act of rebellion. Martial law was declared, troops occupied part of the block and attacked Wiremu Kingi’s fortified pa there on March 17, 1860.

17. Fighting between government troops, which included settler fighters and pro-government Maori, caused economic hardship, with migration all but coming to a stop and the destruction of three-quarters of farmhouses and settlements nearer the town.

18. According to historian James Cowan, 196 anti-government Maori died while 64 British, colonists, and pro-government Maori died in the Taranaki fighting.Wiremu Kingi retreated to Waikato and did not submit until 1872.

19. During 1865, a total of 485,469ha of Taranaki land were confiscated under the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863. This aimed to settle trained soldiers upon confiscated land so as to bring peace to disaffected areas.

20. Amid the chaos of sporadic fighting and the seizure of land arose a cult known as Pai Marire that blended Christianity and Maori spirituality that promised deliverance that was mostly interpreted as deliverance of land. But some high-profile beheadings by these "good and peaceful" Pai Marire, and the use of these heads in religious rites, meant this new religion very quickly became synonymous with violence. Settlers called them “hauhaus” because of the Pai Marire battle chant.

21. Te Whiti followed Pai Marire and fought in the Hauhau attack on Sentry Hill in northern Taranaki in 1864. Pai Marire founder Te Ua Haumene consecrated Te Whiti and Tohu Kakahi in 1865 to carry on his religious work.

22. Te Whiti and Tohu founded Parihaka village in 1867.

The basic history set out above shows why settlers living in Taranaki during the 1860s had a very different view of Te Whiti and what was going on at Parihaka. It was not the simplistic and revised version perpetrated by the Catholic Church in its Caritas publication.

The Caritas booklet talks about reconciliation without any reference to all efforts by governments since 1881 to listen and pay compensation. There is no reference to:

1. The 1944 Taranaki Maori Claims Settlement Act, under which the Taranaki Maori Trust Board had received a ₤5000 annuity plus a £300 lump sum payment for loss of property at Parihaka in 1881.

2. That Te Atiawa will receive a total package of $91-million, signed up last year, which includes a $1-million cultural fund and an accrued interest payment of $3-million.

3. That Ngati Ruanui will receive $67.5-million in a deal signed last year.

Te Whiti and Tohu were Te Atiawa and Titokowaru was Nga Ruahine.

The Tim Finn/Herbs song stresses "Te Whiti will never be defeated". Despite apologies and settlements over the years meetings continue to be held at Parihaka on the 18th and 19th of each month to discuss the issues of the day. Someone else is always to blame. A quote from Ruakere Hond in the Caritas pamphlet says.

The war hasn't finished. People aren't falling by muskets. They are falling from youth suicide, alcohol, drug abuse, chronic poverty, inter-generational poverty. There is still a long way to go.

The Caritas booklet presents the Taranaki experience as Maori versus non-Maori. However, history shows a division within Maori between those who wanted to sell land and benefit from the new way and those, like Te Whiti and Tohu, who did not and sought to impose their views on others.

Parihaka is not about forgiveness and reconciliation. It is more like nursing a grudge.

Besides, I’m sure the parents of children at Catholic schools will question having teachers contrast maligned Maori and wicked white colonizer in a way that combines brown racism with brainwashing.

Sources:
Remembering Parihaka http://www.caritas.org.nz/sites/default/files/Remembering%20Parihaka.pdf
Twisting the Treaty, Tross Publishing, 2013

8 comments:

paul scott said...

Mike,
I first started as a Dairy cattle Veterinarian between Manaia and Opunake, Taranaki.
We blissfully worked those rich fields without the slightest knowledge of Maori history.
Same with the farmers there. Nobody seemed to know anything or care except for two cows per acre. I sometimes go back to see the concrete skeletons of the many dairy company factories which were there.

Anonymous said...

It must be remembered that Maori people never had permanent ownership of any land in NZ prior to the coming of the European. Mostly, Maori occupation at most was tenuous until a stronger Maori tribe came along, killed and scattered the vanquished and occupied it as their own. This warlike culture repeated itself time and time again over hundreds of years. Now, Maori people have permanent ownership of their lands courtesy of the European with a certificate named, "Deed of ownership".

Mike K said...

The Catholic Church aids tribal racism in many other ways too. The Catholic primary school in Te Awamutu teaches its children that a (non existent) massacre of Maori took place during a battle at Rangiaowhia. The story is demonstrably false as amongst other reasons, the buildings supposed to have contained the occupants 'burned to death' were still standing unscathed after the battle. The school forces their children to write stories about their feelings of sorrow and shame over this 'event'. When I wrote to the principal of the school to question hid support of this abhorrent practice he replied he was quite happy brainwashing and lying to his charges in this manner. I asked him if he would at least also teach about genuine massacres of settlers by Maori. He replied that he couldn't possibly traumatise his pupils with such information. The local bishop backed the principal.

Anonymous said...

The closing down of the illegal Parihaka commune only attained present-day visibility because of a 1954 book by Pakeha Communist, Dick Scott, “The Parihaka Story,” and its 1975 update, “Ask That Mountain.“ Scott was the first writer to widely publicise the story of the destruction of Parihaka village in Taranaki by colonial forces in 1881.

It has proven to be a very influential story. Wrote former Listener journalist (and fellow Communist), Denis Welch “Not many books change the way people think but, like its near-contemporaries Silent Spring and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Scott’s did: his dramatic tale of the passive resistance shown by Te Whiti and his followers, and their shameful treatment by the colonial authorities, was eventually to play a key part in radicalising young Maori and raising Pakeha consciousness about the racism inherent in this country’s development.”

Who is Dick Scott and why, in the early 1950s did he choose to write a book about an obscure piece of NZ’s colonial history?

From a Manawatu farming background, Scott mixed with the Communist Party of New Zealand (CPNZ) during WWII in Wellington and went on to formally join the Party in Palmerston North.

Scott’s first exposure to the CPNZ’s Maori programme was Party member Ron Meek’s 48 page pamphlet “Maori Problems Today.“ Meek’s work had argued that both the Maori and the Pakeha working classes shared the same struggles and was written to assist in “forging a bond of unity between Maori and progressive Pakeha.“

Meek wanted the CPNZ to take up Maori problems, in order to secure “an intelligent and powerful ally … to make the inevitable change to a real New Order to come faster and less painfully.”

Scott went into journalism and in the late 1940s was one of several undercover Communists working on the Labour Party’s daily newspaper, “Southern Cross“. These included Scott’s friend and comrade, cadet reporter, Noel Hilliard. Already working on the manuscript that became “Maori Girl,” Hilliard asked Scott to review his work.

Scott used his secret party status to advantage. He infiltrated the “right wing” anti- Communist group “Catholic Action“, had clandestine dealings with the US embassy and gained union positions, all by keeping his Party membership secret.

In 1946 as a 22 year old, he even accepted a Manawatu Labour Party nomination for the General Election. The CPNZ made Scott withdraw his name as they feared the embarrassment should his true loyalties be discovered.

Later in Auckland, Scott held night time meetings with young unionist, Eddie Isbey, in the Parnell Rose Gardens. Formerly a Communist in London, Scott advised Isbey to stay out of the CPNZ. Isbey joined Labour instead and later became a Minister Outside Cabinet.

Scott did become an open Communist for a while however and edited the Party’s newspaper “People’s Voice” for a brief period. Scott says he left the CPNZ in the early ’50s, but his earlier secrecy and admitted dishonesty must cast some doubt on that claim.

About this time, aged 29 and bedridden with measles, Scott began reading from a 640 page legal tome “Bryce v. Rusden“, the story of a defamation case, associated with the 19th Century military incident at the Taranaki Maori settlement of Parihaka. The case had been heard in the High Court in London. Rusden lost. Former Native Minister, John Bryce, was awarded £5,000 in damages, a vast sum in those days.

Anonymous said...

According to one of his close acquaintances, Rusden was “a violent Tory in everything except where natives were concerned' and 'even more violent as an advocate.” Not to put too fine a construction on it, a pro-Maori partisan [aka “Wigger”] like the Reverend Octavius Hadfield, from whom Rusden had got much of his hearsay information about the events he claimed to be chronicling.

This was the man whose discredited polemic, “Aureretanga: The Groans of the Maoris,” Dick Scott became so taken with. Scott had co-incidentally picked this book from the library of Wellington businessman Siegfried Eichelbaum. When Mr Eichelbaum died, his daughters had invited him to pick a book from his library.

Of the four girls, at least two, Anne, later married to economist Wolgang Rosenberg and Cath, later married to unionist Pat Kelly, were CPNZ members.

Scott was inspired to look into the Parihaka story and travelled to Taranaki to undertake research. On the 5th of November 1881 Native Minister John Bryce had sent 1600 Armed Constabulary and volunteers to close down the illegal Parihaka commune after numerous provocations by its inhabitants. During this exercise, not a single person lost their life, yet Scott managed to puff it up into what he later promoted as one of NZ’s most shameful episodes.

Scott worked on “The Parihaka Story” through 1954. He was able to afford to devote time to the project because CPNZ member and dentist, John Colquhoun, kindly employed Scott’s wife Elsie as a temporary dental assistant.

The book was printed by sympathetic former “conscientious objector” Owen Smith and came out in time for Christmas 1954.

“The Parihaka Story” polarised left and right. Wolfgang Rosenberg gave it a very favourable review in the union journal, “The Building Worker“, leftist Bob Goodman praised it in the “Auckland Star“

As Scott has said “Two of my favourable reviews were written by [Communist] refugees from Nazi Germany. They were from two friends. Any good review I got, looking back, were from people I knew.”

The “Listener” was subtly critical of Scott’s evident partiality. It said “Mr Scott is a passionate advocate for the Maori -- his history, product of much research, would be even more impressive had he written it with less bitterness and violence.”

The Taranaki Daily News was more scathing. It ran several articles attacking the book’s accuracy and alleged bias.

“… It is surely no coincidence that a leading member of the Communist Party has recently published The Parihaka Story reviving GW Rusden’s long-disproven allegation of wrongs done to the Maori,” wrote Alexander Boyd Witten-Hannah on 29 January 1955.

Two weeks later, Witten-Hannah wrote of being visited by a Mr Pokai, who: “… came to my home and told me of his feelings in words that give a complete answer to the malicious innuendos in a recently published book by a Communist journalist, obviously designed to revive the memory of old wrongs for political advantage.”

Scott says his early political leanings were well known. “I have to be honest, I had been a member of the Communist Party when I was young, but I wasn’t then.”

Anonymous said...

In December 1955, Scott learned that “Foreign Languages Publishing House” in the Soviet Union was proposing to include “The Parihaka Story” in their 1956 history section. Scott later received a cheque for the then substantial sum of 300 Guineas from his Soviet publisher.

In the 1970s, Scott reworked the book and had it re-published as “Ask That Mountain.” It has gone into eight printings and around 25,000 copies.

As PM Helen Clark said in 2004. “Most famously, The Parihaka Story in 1954, as developed into the fuller account Ask That Mountain in 1975, has had, in the words of Denis Welch, ‘as profound an influence on our national sense of history as any book ever written.’ Having visited Parihaka, I can only affirm what Dick Scott found when he brought that story into New Zealand’s general consciousness – that it is a special place with a special history which must never be forgotten.”

Special history, indeed!

Special pleading, more like – a marathon piece of special pleading carefully crafted by a white Communist to foster racial discord.

ngawaka19 said...

Thanks Mike I love your writings. There's a great comfort knowing there are writers like you here on earth.

janthebook said...

Great timeline of events.
However one fact that should continually be stressed whenever Parihaka is mentioned is how many people died there. Turiana Turia repeatedly labelled what happened at Parihaka as a holocaust and I've had many arguments with people regarding the huge number of people who everyone believes died there. The truth is though that not one person died there! I think if this was stressed in all discussions about Parihaka it would change how people view it significantly. This aspect is discreetly ignored in all information about this event while the emphasis is on the destruction and assumption that there was loss of life.
Additionally Te Whiti was a cannibal and involved in some significant battles in his early days. While he definitely had a change of heart he was not the Ghandi of Maoridom that someone portray him to be.