Reconciliation At Parihaka

The tomb of Te Whiti O Rongomai, at Parihaka. Te Whiti passed away in 1907.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.

Lauren standing beneath the Parihaka Stockade, photo taken about 1988. Te Whiti and Tohu were held in this stockade, after their arrest, on their way to trial in New Plymouth.

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.

Danny Keenan, 'Te Whiti O Rongomai and the Resistance of Parihaka', published by Huia Publishers, Wellington, 2015.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.

Prison leg-irons found

Leg-irons discovered in a Dunedin auction house, 2014.In 2014, a pair of prison leg-irons appeared in a Dunedin auction house, being offered for sale. It was immediately thought that these irons might have been used on the Māori prisoners from Taranaki. These men were arrested and sent south to prison without trial, before the Armed Constabulary raid on Parihaka in 1881. The discovery of the leg-irons sparked quite a controversy.

Please click the image of the leg-irons (right) to read Danny’s article on this matter, published in the Taranaki Daily News on 27 March 2014.

Pungarehu Primary School Centenary 1992 

The logo used during the Pungarehu Primary School centenary, 2012.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.

The Pungarehu School Centenary 1992 - new Prime Minister Jim Bolger chats with Te Ru Koriri Wharehoka, kaumātua of Parihaka. Far left (sitting) is Te Miringa Hohaia, alongside Aunty Poppy Bailey.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.

The people from Parihaka approach Pungarehu Primary, on the day of official proceedings.

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 political elites.

The ‘frontier’ framework has some uses in countries like Australia and Canada, though some historians in those countries do question its relevance for native peoples. But, all the same, you could say that, by the 1890s, the ‘frontier’ in NZ had ‘closed’.

‘Indian Hating’ and Native History

‘Indian-Hating’ is the somewhat harsh term (perhaps for New Zealand ears) used by James Sandos and Larry Burgess in their amazing book The Hunt for Willie Boy.   Published in 1994, this terrific book tells the story of a manhunt in Southern California in September 1929. Written by two fine ‘white’ historians (as Pākehā are called in the USA), the book’s essential thesis – how ‘Indian-hating’ has uncritically permeated popular… Read more »