On 9 June 2017, the Parihaka community met with Crown officials to receive a reconciliation apology, and $9m restitution for past Crown actions. Looking back over the history of Parihaka since the invasion of 1881, this was a truly momentous occasion, as many have rightly said.
Enormous credit must go to the Parihaka negotiators and people who made this possible; history was certainly on their side, as it was on the side of Māori in 1881, though of course that provides little consolation in the wake of hurts, losses and dispossession suffered by Taranaki Māori.
Credit must also go to Treaty Minister Chris Finlayson and his officials who were equally determined to bring this day of reconciliation forward. Reading the 1881 Parliamentary accounts of the invasion again, it’s nothing short of amazing how things have turned out. As many as have said before, history does have a certain sense of irony. You can read more about the invasion of Parihaka by clicking here – Parihaka invasion.
The Spinoff Online Magazine invited Danny to assess this reconciliation and its importance for Māori and the country. You can read his essay here – Reconciliation at Parihaka.
The Taranaki Daily News also carried two really good pieces about the ceremony, written by Deena Coster and Tara Shaskey. You can read their articles here – Apology at Parihaka and a New Peace at Parihaka.
Finally, Danny’s book on the invasion of Parihaka, with background and consequences for Taranaki Māori, was published in 2015 – Parihaka and the Resistance of Parihaka (Huia Publishers, Wellington). You can read more about the book here – Te Whiti O Rongomai.
The prologue to this book was also published on the Spinoff Online Magazine – you read this extract here – Prologue to Te Whiti book.
Pungarehu Primary School Centenary 1992
Interestingly, the local primary school near Parihaka, at Pungarehu (where some of the invading troops were housed) celebrated its centenary in 1992. Danny and his two older sisters, Wikitoria and Jennifer, attended the school in late 1950s. Sadly, the school was closed down in 2003, and the buildings were subsequently demolished.
A centenary in 1992 means of course that the school was opened in 1892, which is eleven years after the 1881 invasion. By then, the area was deemed to be ‘safe enough’ to open a primary school, especially since Native Minister John Ballance had earlier decommissioned and disbanded the Armed Constabulary.
We don’t really use the ‘frontier’ framework in New Zealand history – it’s popular of course in the USA.
We didn’t have the conditions here which set up a ‘frontier’ situation – like the widespread dispersal of Pākehā populations, and the setting up of ‘new identities’ well away from the influence of urban centres and elites.
The ‘frontier’ framework has some uses in countries like Australia and Canada, though some historians do question its relevance for native peoples. But, all the same, you could say then that, by the 1890s, the frontier in NZ had ‘closed’.
You can read about some of these publications, and how they have contributed to a wars historiography, by clicking here – writing about the wars.
However, the number of Māori historians who have written about the wars is quite limited. Perhaps best known amongst Māori writers of the wars is Buddy Mikaere (below, right), a former Director of the Waitangi Tribunal and most accomplished writer.
Buddy is possibly best know for his book Te Maiharoa and the Promised Land, published in 1997, thō of course he has done heaps since then.
Other Māori of note include filmmaker and historian Brad Haami (below, left), and tribal historian Tony Sole. Brad is possibly best known for two of his books, Golan Maaka: Māori Doctor, which was a personal memoir, and Love Stories: Mate Tau. Tony is well-known for his hugely-detailed tribal history, Ngāti Ruanui (see bottom, right).
Monty Soutar (below, right), is also well established as a wars historian. Monty is perhaps better known for his work on Māori and the Second World War, but he has written about the 19th century wars featuring his Ngāti Porou people.
Monty’s PhD thesis focussed on Ropata Wahawaha and his war against Pai Marire adherents who encroached into the East Coast. As Monty argues, these were significant campaigns for Ngāti Porou, as they fought to bring stability of the Coast, whilst keeping a wary eye on the Crown.
Monty is possibly best known for his book Ngā Tamatoa: The Price of Citizenship. C Company 28 (Māori) Battalion 1939-1945 (published 2008). This huge book tells the story of Māori soldiers fighting in Europe during World War Two.
Danny Keenan (left), who is the writer of this website, has also written on the New Zealand Wars. Danny’s research area of interest is Māori political history, specifically the history of Māori-State relations during the 19th century, i.e. until 1912, when the Liberals went out of office.
The wars were of course an integral part of this history. Danny’s PhD examined the Native Land Court in Taranaki, after the Taranaki wars of 1860-1861. You can see some of Danny’s published work here – publications.
We see this of course in the USA, where popular perceptions of the West – and how it was won from Native Americans – continue to influence how ordinary American folk see their founding years.
We don’t have anything like this in New Zealand, given that our movie industry isn’t as all-encompassing as that of the USA. Our homemade movies don’t make such inroads into – and frame – our cultural beliefs.
But we do have some movies that have examined the wars, telling various tales about Māori and Pākehā, and how they fared in times of national and civil conflict. Depicted here are some fine examples which we’ll be reviewing here shortly.
It can be revealing to compare historic sites, as they once existed, to see how they appear today. This allows us to observe how much the sites have changed, over time – or, how much they remain the same. Landscapes change over time for many reasons, not least which is agricultural development, a real feature of this country’s past of course.
This page illustrates some of the New Zealand Wars sites – then and now. This is a fairly random selection. In time, thō, these comparative images will be arranged by field of engagement.
The siege of Ngatapa Pā
See images above, left and right, of the site of the Ngatapa battle, then and now. This engagement was fought between January 1-5, 1869, and involved Te Kooti’s people being held under siege by East Coast Māori. To read more of the East Coast wars, of which Ngatapa was a part, see here – East Coast Wars.
Attack on Sentry Hill
Sentry Hill is located mid way between Waitara and New Plymouth, on the road that deviates toward Lepperton and Inglewood.
On 30 April, 1864, members of a Hau Hau war party attacked Sentry Hill, where a British Army Redoubt occupied an old Pā site named Te Morere. This attack brought the war back to North Taranaki, following an earlier truce of 1861.
The attack proved disastrous for Māori, with about 50 men killed and a further 40 seriously wounded. Today, Sentry Hill is a fairly desolate place, part of a dairy farm, just beside a very busy road. To read more about the battle fought at Sentry Hill, see here – Sentry Hill.
Julius Volkner was a minister of the Lutheran Church based at Opotiki, near Whakatane.
On 2 March 1865 , Volkner was hanged by Māori, from a tree just outside his church. The Māori were members of Hau Hau war parties, who were raiding in the area at the time. The accused Volkner of being a spy, and meted out this summary and tragic punishment.
Today, Volkner lies buried behind his church, which now stands in the main street of Opotiki. The Māori involved in the hangings were later apprehended by the Armed Constabulary and most were themselves later hanged in Auckland.
Fitzroy’s Pole, as it is commonly known, was erected by Te Ātiawa just north of New Plymouth in 1847.
The pole was erected to signify to Pākehā that no more land would be sold, north of the pole, that is, in the direction of Waitara.
At the time, Māori in the area were involved in a ferocious civil war, between those who wished to sell land, and those who did not.
Māori called the pole Te Pou Tuataki, or the blocking pole. The pole was put in place by Parata Te Huia and Waitere Katatore, and stood 25 feet tall.
The civil conflict amongst Māori however was never satisfactorily resolved, especially once the Crown began taking sides, thus contributing to the outbreak of the war at Waitara in 1860.
You can read more about the war at Waitara, see here – War at Waitara.
The stockade was manned by British troops. Their task was to guard the southern entrance to the town, apprehending any hostile Māori observed moving north, possibly endangering the town.
However, very little action was seen here, with the notable exception of the battle of Waireka, which was fought nearby on 28 March 1860. War had just broken out to the north of New Plymouth, at Waitara, on 17 March. Southern Māori were suspected of trying to move north, in support; they were intercepted at Waireka Pā, and an engagement followed.
Ms Harete Hipango has been elected to the seat of Whanganui – congratulations Harete!
Harete is from Whanganui, and has long been a prominent local barrister and solicitor. She is married to Dean, and they have three grown children. Harete is an awesome person and will make a great MP.
Running for Parliament
Harete is now unique because she is holding a General Seat. In the past, we haven’t seen very many Māori holding General Seats. Normally, Māori have been nominated for the Māori seats, which were established as special seats in 1867.
In fact, one of the first Māori MPs to be elected to the national Parliament in 1867 was also from Whanganui – Te Rangi Paetahi Metekingi, quite a name in the history of Māori politics.
However, the first Māori to be elected to a General Seat was James Carroll, elected to the General Seat of Waiapu in 1893. Carroll held this seat until 1919, serving his East Coast constituents – Māori and Pākehā – for over 25 years.
James Carroll’s subsequent career as Parliamentarian was outstanding, especially his tenure as Native Minister from 1899 to 1912, when the Liberals went out of office. One of Carroll’s protégé’s, Apirana Ngata, would go on to great things, and generally eclipse our memories of James Carroll and his many achievements.
However, he remains a much revered figure in Māori and Pākeha political circles. Thereafter, despite the considerable inherent challenges, Māori have occupied General Seats with considerable success.
More recent Māori MPs in General Seats that spring to mind are Ben Couch (National, Wairarapa 1975-1984), Georgina Beyer (Labour, Wairarapa/List, 1999-2007) and of course Winston Peters (National/New Zealand First, Tauranga/List/Northland, 1996 – present).
It’s an interesting history, Māori political representation in General Seats, as an important part of the complex political fabric of our country. Perhaps a book, one day.
The read more on the awarding of the franchise to Māori, click here – the Māori vote.
It’s a busy town right now of course; but, if history and monuments are your thing, then Washington is second to none when it comes to its array of memorials and monuments, to say nothing of its great museums, like the Native American Museum and National Archives.
Not all of Washington’s memorials signify past battles, but many do commemorate past American involvement in wars overseas, like the First World War and Vietnam.
And, surrounding the town and stretching south lie the amazing Civil War battle sites.
Most of the monuments in fact represent past American political history, centred on prominent and revered figures like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Martin Luther King.
Academics from New Zealand get the chance to work there for a semester, courtesy of the Fulbright Foundation. Fulbright offer a very generous scholarship for those interested in teaching for a term with the Centre for Australian and New Zealand Studies (CANZ) at Georgetown.
For more on Washington DC, from our perspective at least, plse click here – Washington DC.
‘Māori history’ can be defined in many different ways – it depends on which historian you are talking to, and whether that historian is Māori or not. But it doesn’t end there.
In this book, Huia Histories of Māori. Ngā Tāhuhu Kōrero, Danny has written an Introduction entitled ‘Land, Culture and History Interwoven’ (edited by Danny, Huia Publishers, Wellington, 2012, pp. xviii-xl).
In this introduction, Danny discusses different aspects and forms of ‘Māori history’, as seen in recent scholarship by Māori writers. He then sets these frames of reference against the histories of Māori and our country, as canvassed in the book by the featured17 Māori scholars. Watch this space – the chapter itself will be uploaded and will be accessible here, shortly.
Mā Pango Mā Whēro Kā Oti
Another chapter on the nature of Māori history by Danny appears in this book (right), Fragments. New Zealand Social and Cultural History, (eds) Bronwyn Labrum and Bronwyn Dalley (Auckland University Press, Auckland, 2000).
The chapter is entitled ‘Mā Pango, Mā Whero Ka Oti. Unities and Fragments in Māori History’ (pp. 38-53). In this chapter, Danny argues that ‘Māori history’ is essentially (though not exclusively) framed by notions of customary lore and is centred upon iwi (the tribe) or hāpū (the sub-tribe). So, for example, whakapapa (genealogy) is a important customary framing device used by Māori when thinking about their past.
You can read this chapter by clicking here – Mā Pango Mā Whero Ka Oti.
See here also for further comments on Maori Land and History.
We have settled on 28 October as our new New Zealand Wars Day, with preparations underway around the country to commemorate these past conflicts. However, the choice of the date – 28 October – was surprising, having had little to do with the actual wars themselves. The date was chosen by a gathering of tribal leaders held in early 2016.
Why this date chosen? It’s the day, we are told, that the Declaration of Independence was signed, in 1835 in the Far North, between the tribes of Ngā Puhi and a British Resident Agent, James Busby.
Pākehā historians like James Belich have long argued that the wars were ‘wars of sovereignty’. This date, 28 October, references that argument by foregrounding the issue of Māori sovereignty, rather than choosing an actual wars date.
Māori historians, by contrast, have argued that, for Māori, te tino rangatirantanga lay in the land, and was indistinguishable from the land, and the continuing possession of it. Tribes fought, and died, to protect this.
An over-arching ‘sovereignty’ sounds fine, but for Māori it was something always grounded in the land. October 28 denies to Māori the devastating costs of those conflicts, fought for their te tino rangatirantanga, embedded in the tribal estates.
A better date might have been 17 March, when the wars started at Te Kohia, near Waitara. The Taranaki Daily News has recently published an excellent article about the Te Kohia Battle site, you can read it here : Te Kohia Battle Site .
Another date is 20 November, when Rangiriri was attacked by British forces. Rangiriri was the defining battle of the wars, where, for Māori, the wars were lost. You can read more about Rangiriri, and the Waikato Wars, here – the Battle for Rangiriri.
Or, 5 November when, say some historians, the Land Wars finally came to a close. On 5 November 1881, Parihaka was invaded and its leaders arrested. You can read more about this here – Invasion of Parihaka.
What’s in a date?
Everything. If anything, 28 October represents, not a sense of history, but modern Māori political realities, representing the state of Crown-Māori relations today which are centred on still outstanding issues of Māori autonomy, or sovereignty.
The date seems less about the wars, and more about Māori seeking constitutional or political leverage. A date more reflective of the Māori experience of those wars, with all of the hurt, dispossession, loss and devastation has been by-passed, and that is a great shame.