Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger says the history of Parihaka must be preserved for future generations. He hopes all New Zealanders will take the time to visit the Parihaka visitors centre once it's completed.
“I’d like to see them all (Kiwis) in some shape or form going through there,” Jim Bolger says.
“Then reflecting on the wonderful leadership, that the leaders of Parihaka showed.”
Parihaka land trustee Tina Mason says being able to tell the Parihaka story from their perspective is one of the community's aspirations.
“This is our aspiration. It’s a kind of a beginning of a healing and reconciliation,” Tina Mason says.
Bolger grew up in Opunake, 23km from Parihaka, yet knew nothing of its history. He hopes the rising generation of Kiwis will grow up knowing what he regards as an important chapter of Aotearoa history.
“I’d like to see an honest and truthful story,” Bolger says, “which tells them almost exclusively what they don’t know."
Parihaka trustee Tina Mason talks about updating her kainga
Parihaka has also become an internet hub, as part of the rural connectivity scheme. The scheme is a partnership between government and telco companies to help the regions access ultra-fast broadband.
“This is an initiative that was a couple of years ago but, because of our location, it’s not quite that simple,” Mason says.
The former prime minister and ambassador to the US reflected on what it took to get to this point. Parihaka had been left out of the Taranaki treaty negotiations, to be dealt with on its own. He points out that the descendants of the Parihaka village were quick to forgive, and wanted assistance to move on.
He summarises the community feeling as: “We forgive you, but help us out with something.
”Working with Dame Tariana Turia and the rest of the Parihaka working group, the decision was made to build a visitor's centre."
Building this facility with accompanying infrastructure is in Mason’s words "overdue".
“We are inundated with just endless ad hoc visitors, campervans, passersby just popping in wanting to learn about Parihaka,” she says.
Mason says the pa will try to work with as many local contractors as possible to bring business to the region.
In the late 19th century, Parihaka was a modern settlement ahead of its time. It had street lighting before Auckland. This project will help restore Parihaka to its status as a pioneering township.