After over 140 years, Parihaka people receive apology from the Crown

By Ani-Oriwia Adds

An emotional day for Parihaka people as the long overdue apology was finally made by the Crown for its actions over 140 years ago.  

The apology was greeted with tears and relief as the actions of the past were re-visited, but some local kuia and rangatahi agreed that it was very much welcomed and that the people were ready to let go and move forward.

He Puanga Haeata is the name given to the Reconciliation hui and is in reference to the 1865 establishment of the community we know today as Parihaka. Forced off their ancestral lands by colonial armed forces and agents, Tohu Kākahi, Te Whiti o Rongomai and their people relocated further inland.

Refugees in their own lands, they were attacked again at their Waikoukou settlement and resettled to Parihaka during a period that was prophetically proclaimed, Te Tau o te Haeata (The Year of a New Dawn).

Many years in the making, Parihaka and the Crown have now formalised mutual terms for reconciliation. Designed to reconcile the Crown’s relationship with Parihaka, the Crown support package comprises:

  • Te Kawenata o Rongo – Deed of Reconciliation
  • Te Huanga o Rongo – a Relationship Agreement between Parihaka and Crown agencies and local authorites in Taranaki that includes assistance towards initiatives such as healing and reconciliation, infrastructure and cultural development
  • Te Tikanga Tuku Iho – A Legacy Statement with the Crown that addresses historical issues and the founding principles and future aspirations of Parihaka
  •  Te Whakapāha – a formal apology from the Crown for its actons at Parihaka

The Crown’s failings included:

• Imprisoning 405 Parihaka residents for their participation in the peaceful ploughing and fencing campaigns of 1879 and 1880 and promoting laws that breached natural justice by holding those protestors in jails without trial;
• Invading Parihaka in November 1881, forcibly evicting many people who had sought refuge there, dismantling and desecrating homes and sacred buildings, stealing heirlooms and systematically destroying cultivations and livestock; and
• Arresting and detaining Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai, the leaders of Parihaka, for 16 months without trial.

“Basic requirements of natural justice and the rule of law (which are the birthright of all New Zealanders) were denied to our citizens at Parihaka and they were left without any legal remedy,” Mr Chris Finlayson said.

“Signing this Deed of Reconciliation is a significant milestone for the Crown, Parihaka, the iwi and community of Taranaki and many others who believe in Parihaka’s legacy of peace.

“The Crown has previously acknowledged and apologised to iwi of Taranaki, through individual Treaty settlements, for the treatment of their tūpuna who were at Parihaka but today’s ceremony is for the community as a whole.”