Rua Kēnana one step closer to being pardoned

By Jessica Tyson

An official pardon for Tūhoe prophet and leader Rua Kēnana is one step closer after submissions opened for the public to have their say on the Rua Kēnana Pardon Bill.

The Bill is in response to the wrongful arrest of Kēnana during a raid in 1916, when 70-armed police invaded Maungapōhatu to arrest him for illegally selling liquor.

During the raid, Kēnana and seven others were arrested, while his son Toko and relation Te Maipi were shot dead. Kēnana was convicted of “moral resistance” to the police and was sentenced to 12 months hard labour and 18 months imprisonment.

The Māori Affairs Committee says the Bill seeks to restore Kēnana’s character, mana and reputation, as well as that of his descendants. It also seeks to acknowledge the deep hurt, shame and stigma suffered as a result of the invasion of Maungapōhatu.

Kēnana’s great-grandson Tane Rua told Native Affairs, the injustices of Maungapōhatu have lingered in the Urewera and Tūhoe history for a very long time.

“It’s important we settle these now while those of us, his grandchildren, are still alive,” he said.

Ngā Toenga o Ngā Tamariki a Iharaira member Poipoi Te Kaawa says, “The stories about Rua are degrading and demeaning and those stories are shared by his own people. Those insults weigh heavily on us as survivors of the Church of Israelites.”

Once passed into law, the Bill will give effect to an agreement between the Crown and Ngā Toenga o Ngā Tamariki a Iharaira me Ngā Uri o Maungapōhatu Charitable Trust to provide a statutory pardon for Kēnana as well as an apology.

Submissions close on midnight October 30.