Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mike Butler: Would we burn effigies on Parihaka Day?

Parihaka Day celebrations are wanted to replace Guy Fawkes Day each November 5, according to a petition from Donald James Rowlands and 891 others presented to Parliament last week by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia. What could be wrong with a musical outpouring throughout the nation, along the lines of the Parihaka International Peace Festival, to replace the fireworks, bonfires and effigy burnings that mark a failed Catholic plot to kill a Protestant king in England 406 years ago?

Turia said Parihaka Day would commemorate November 5, 1881, when villagers in the coastal Taranaki settlement peacefully awaited arrest by 1500 colonial troops. The invasion of Parihaka was not something to be proud of, but was part of New Zealand history, whereas Guy Fawkes was not, Mrs Turia said.
But what would a Parihaka Day commemorate -- passive resistance to white settlement, or an aggressive colonial government asserting the law? I guess it would mark resistance to white settlement.

Maori leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi founded Parihaka village in 1867, the year after the end of the Second Taranaki War (1863-1866), on land confiscated by the government under the 1863 New Zealand Settlements Act.

Te Whiti and Tohu followed Te Ua Haumene's Pai Marire, referred to as Hauhaus by settlers. Hauhaus were known for beheading their victims and using the heads in religious rites. Both Te Whiti and Tohu played a part in the Hauhau attack on Sentry Hill in northern Taranaki in 1864. In December 1865 Te Ua consecrated Tohu, Te Whiti and Taikomako (Te Whiti's half-brother) to carry on his religious work.

Parihaka was set up as an open village, as opposed to a bush fortress. Maori King Tawhiao sent 12 "apostles" to live at Parihaka to strengthen the bonds between the Waikato and Taranaki Maori who were opposed to further land sales to the government or white settlers. Colonial troops had invaded the Waikato in 1863.

By the end of the 1870s, Parihaka had a population of about 1600, it had its own police force, bakery and bank, used advanced agricultural machinery, and organised large teams who worked the coast and bush to harvest enough seafood and game to feed the thousands who came to the meetings.

In mid-1878, as the provincial government pressured the Government for more land, Colonial Treasurer John Ballance advocated the survey and sale by force of the Waimate Plains of South Taranaki.

In February 1879, surveyors began cutting lines through cultivations and fences and trampling cash crops and also ran a road into Titokowaru's own settlement. Maori retaliated by uprooting kilometres of survey pegs. Monthly meetings at Parihaka attracted Maori from all over New Zealand.

Te Whiti sent ploughmen, starting on May 26, 1879, to plough through the grassland of white settler farmers. On June 29 the armed constabulary began arresting the ploughmen. By August, 200 prisoners had been taken.

On August 10, leading pro-government chiefs called on the government to halt surveys of disputed lands and on Maori to end their action in claiming those lands. Te Whiti agreed to a truce and by the end of the month the ploughing ended.

In December 1879, the Government convened the West Coast Commission, to examine grievances over West Coast land confiscations. In an interim report released in April, 1880, the commission acknowledged the puzzle of why the land had been confiscated when its owners had never taken up arms against the government, but recommended all the open country in the Parihaka block – 15,000 acres (61 km2) along the coast – be taken by the government.

In June 1880, on Native Minister John Bryce's instruction, the Armed Constabulary broke fences around the large Parihaka cultivations, exposing their cash crops to wandering stock. Parihaka inhabitants responded by building houses, fencing, planting and occupying Constabulary camping grounds.

The Government responded with another Maori Prisoners' Detention Act, and then, in September, an even harsher West Coast Settlement (North Island) Act, which widened the powers of arrest and provided for two years' jail with hard labour.

In early 1881, the Government had decided to survey and sell four-fifths of the Waimate Plains and 31,000 acres (130 km2), or more than half, of the 56,000 acres (230 km2) Parihaka block. Maori at Parihaka continued to clear, fence and cultivate the land, regardless of whether it had been surveyed and sold.

As Native Minister, William Rolleston visited Parihaka on October 8, 1881, urging Te Whiti to submit to the Government. Te Whiti ignored it. A proclamation issued on October 19, 1881, gave Te Whiti and the inhabitants of Parihaka, 14 days to depart.

At the end of October, 1074 Armed Constabulary, almost 1000 volunteers from around New Zealand and up to 600 Taranaki volunteers, together outnumbering Parihaka adult males by four to one, gathered near Parihaka.

Shortly after 5am on November 5, long columns converged on Parihaka, encircling the village. Reinstated as Native Minister, John Bryce arrived at 8am, riding on a white horse. Two hours later he demanded a reply to the proclamation of October 19. When his demand was met with silence, he ordered the Riot Act to be read, warning that persons unlawfully assembled had one hour to disperse or receive a jail sentence of hard labour for life. Before the hour was up, a bugle was sounded and troops stormed the village.

Arrests continued for 18 days as houses were searched for weapons, looted, and destroyed. Crops were destroyed. A total of 1600 people were expelled.

Te Whiti and Tohu appeared in the New Plymouth court on November 12, 1881, for a four-day trial, at the end of which Te Whiti declared: "It is not my wish that evil should come to the two races. My wish is for the whole of us to live peaceably and happy on the land." The magistrate committed both to jail in New Plymouth until further notice. Later, the government introduced the West Coast Peace Preservation Bill, which decreed that Te Whiti and Tohu could be jailed indefinitely. If released, they could be rearrested without charge at any time.

Te Whiti three times refused a government offer that if he agreed to cease assembling his people he could return to Taranaki, where he would receive a government income and land for himself. Te Whiti and Tohu were finally released in March 1883 and returned to Parihaka, still under threat of arrest under the powers of the West Coast Peace Preservation Act, renewed in August 1883.

On January 1, 1883, the reserves granted to Māori by the West Coast Commission were vested in the Public Trust for 30-year lease to European settlers at a nominal rental, prompting Te Whiti to refuse to sign documents and refuse to collect the rental income of £7000 a year.

Armed constabulary remained stationed at Parihaka, enforcing pass laws and the ban on public meetings, yet rebuilding began.

In August 1884, Te Whiti and Tohu embarked on large protest marches across Taranaki, as far south as Patea and north to White Cliffs. In July 1886, his protesters began occupying and erecting thatched huts on white settler farms.

Titokowaru and eight other Maori were arrested and on July 20 armed constables launched a dawn raid on Parihaka to arrest Te Whiti. Ten weeks later they faced a Supreme Court trial in Wellington. Te Whiti was jailed for three months and fined £100 for being an accessory to forcible entry, riot and malicious injury to property; the others were jailed for a month and fined £20. In late 1889 Te Whiti was arrested again over a disputed £203 debt and sentenced to three months' hard labour .

In 1895, Parihaka received a state visit by the Minister for Labour, William Pember Reeves and, two months later, Premier Richard Seddon, who engaged in a tense exchange with Te Whiti over past injustices.
Tohu died on February 4, 1907, and Te Whiti died nine months later, on November 18.

The New Zealand government provided redress and a formal apology, between 2001 and 2006, to Ngati Ruanui, Ngati Tama, Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi and Ngati Mutunga, for a range of historical issues including Parihaka. Most of the confiscated land remains privately owned.

Efforts to establish peace and reconciliation succeed when the warring parties find common ground in an area that transcends both parties. The Parihaka movement exists on one side of the “bi-cultural” division in this country, so therefore would be unable to transcend entrenched racial views. Parihaka remains a symbol of colonial aggression; therefore, it is difficult to see how it could morph into an icon of peace and reconciliation.
Therefore, if a Parihaka Day would include fireworks and effigy burning, would the effigy be of Native Affairs Minister John Bryce, who personally directed the invasion of Parihaka and the arrest of the leaders of the movement, or would it be of Te Whiti?

Sources:“Forget Guy Fawkes Day, try Parihaka Day, The Dominion Post, Thursday, May 12, 2011.
Guy Fawkes, Wikipedia.
Parihaka, Wikipedia,
Tohu Kakahi,


Paul Goodsort said...

The celebration of Parihaka would first need to be endemic amongst Maori before it became part of NZ consciousness. As best I can tell few Maori celebrate Parihaka and there the matter rests.

Anonymous said...

What about the holocaust of Parihaka? Not sure how you can have a holocaust without any deaths though? However they keep this quiet and hold this up as a rallying cry behind which Maori hide as they try to twist this event into an example of colonial repression?
Parihaka is also used to show how progressive Maori were - the first people to know the power and value of peaceful resistance?
I have no doubt that Te Whiti wanted to try something different but he had been a cannibal and engaged in cannibal wars like everyone of his age. He found another strategy with Parihaka and no matter what they tried they were still a community of dissaffected cannibals! NZ history is all about isolating events, stripping away the context and trying to get these events to stand alone. Unfortunately many Kiwis have ignorantly contributed to the myth of Parihaka by writing books and songs while never looking at what really happen in the context and culture of the time. These and mute historians only enable Maori to construct mythical events upon which to build their fabricated history. Time that people stood up for truth and restore a truthful accounting of our history.