Parihaka arrests day, not fireworks fun

By Taroi Black

The arrested Parihaka leaders



While most New Zealanders are lighting fireworks to honour a failed bomb plot today, Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is calling for the government to drop Guy Fawke's Day.

Instead, she wants a national day to commemorate what her iwi recalls as The Day of Plunder / Te Rā o te Pāhua – when the people of Parihaka in Taranaki were attacked by armed soldiers on November 5, 1881.

“I think it's a shame,” she says.

“We need to call out and remember leaders with pono and tika.”

Māori will never forget the Crown's wrongdoing when Parihaka inhabitants were arrested and expelled from their lands 140 years ago, she says.

“I get that people want to have fun but, if this was any other culture in any other country, that is not the way the government and the people would be accepting it.”

In 2019 an apology for the invasion by the Crown into Parihaka passed into law.

“We have a part of our history where the tangata whenua and tangata tiriti were preserving peace and holding their dignity.”

“The last thing this government should continue to allow is the overshadowing of Parihaka's day.

“We need to find peace and calmness.”

Ngawera-Packer is not alone in wanting Guy Fawkes Day to go away.

A  large number of organisations say they want the private sale and use of fireworks banned. They include the police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Auckland Council, NZ Veterinary Association, Local Government New Zealand, SAFE and SPCA.  

SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen told Te Ao Māori News she sees no point in an English tradition based on a terrorist being celebrated in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Guy Fawkes is an English tradition that somehow made its way here and it's done its day.”

“We could celebrate something much more, like New Zealand events or Aotearoa events than a Guy Fawkes Night.”

Meanwhile, the SPCA wants fireworks for public display only to minimise the harm they cause to animals. Last year a parliamentary committee advocated for the banning of private sale and use of fireworks but no action has been made by the government, Midgen claims.

“Every year we get animal welfare concerns where people have inappropriately used fireworks around animals or on animals.”