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Remembering the 5th of November and Parihaka

Written By: - Date published: 2:44 pm, November 5th, 2019 - 9 comments
Categories: Maori Issues - Tags: , ,

Jack McDonald posted this poem by his Nana, J.C. Sturm, to mark the anniversary of the invasion of Parihaka in 1881.

Dylan Owen at the National Library writes,

Remembering Parihaka

Many New Zealanders associate 5 November with Guy Fawkes and an evening of family fun and fireworks. But some Māori remember the date for a very different reason.

For Taranaki Māori, 5 November 1881 is known as ‘Te Rā o te Pāhua’ or ‘The Day of Plunder’. The invasion of Parihaka — te pāhuatanga — happened when around 1500 armed constabulary and volunteers led by the Native Affairs Minister, John Bryce, invaded Parihaka.

For months leading up to the invasion, troops had surrounded the peaceful Taranaki Māori village. They even set up a cannon on a nearby hill. While the soldiers had enough ammunition and rations to see them through a ‘bloody battle’, the reality was very different.

There was no bloody fighting. Instead, soldiers entering the village were greeted by singing children and women offering them fresh loaves of bread.

What happened?

It made no difference. 

Following the invasion of Parihaka, its leaders, Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai, were arrested and imprisoned without trial. Sixteen hundred followers were expelled, while buildings and crops were plundered and destroyed by the Pakeha troops.

In 1903, journalist William Baucke met Te Whiti and wrote down his thoughts on the events that led up to the sacking of Parihaka. Te Whiti told him:

‘The white man in his covetousness ordered me to move on instead of removing himself from my presence. I resisted; I resist to this day’… suddenly he (Te Whiti) pointed to the mountain. ‘Ask that mountain,’ he said, ‘Taranaki saw it all!’
— ‘Ask that Mountain: The Story of Parihaka’ by Dick Scott. Raupo, 2008, p.186–187.


In 2017, over 100 years later, the Crown was again met with singing children and food baskets at Parihaka. This time the circumstances were very different.

The Crown was there to deliver te whakapāha — a formal apology for its actions over Parihaka.

Hundreds attended He Puanga Haeata — the reconciliation ceremony. Some openly wept as Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson delivered the Government apology.

‘That is why the Crown comes today offering an apology to the people of Parihaka for actions that were committed in its name almost 140 years ago.’

‘… Parihaka has waited a long time for this day,’ Finlayson also added.

Te Pire Haeata ki Parihaka (Parihaka Reconciliation Bill)

The Crown acknowledges that it utterly failed to recognise or respect the vision of self-determination and partnership that Parihaka represented. The Crown responded to peace with tyranny, to unity with division, and to autonomy with oppression.

On 24 October 2019, the apology or Te Pire Haeata ki Parihaka (Parihaka Reconciliation Bill) was finally passed into law.

Korero, waiata, and tears — it was an extraordinarily emotional day for politicians and the 100 or so people who had travelled from Parihaka to Parliament to witness the occasion.

Next steps

The Reconciliation Bill also included:

• the establishment of a Parihaka–Crown Leaders’ Forum
• Te Huanga o Rongo — healing and reconciliation assistance
• the setting up of a Parihaka fund
• protection of the name ‘Parihaka’ from commercial use.

At Parliament for the Bill’s final reading, Puna Wano-Bryant (Parihaka’s Papakainga Trust chair) also noted that the teaching of Aotearoa New Zealand history in all our schools was an important next step.

We want our children to not only talk about the facts of history but also about the pain and injury that has caused and that how we move forward as a nation together — Māori and Pākehā.


Full post by Dylan Owen is here. Republished from the National Library website under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence.

9 comments on “Remembering the 5th of November and Parihaka ”

  1. Gosman 1

    "….The crown and Pākehā settlers wanted it, & used the most violent of methods to get. Destroying food sources, disease, and with muskets and canons."

    What nonsense. If the British really wanted to take ALL the land in NZ using the most violent methods they weren't very good at it. You only have to look at what happened to the people on the Chatham's and Tasmania to see that.

    • Stuart Munro. 1.1

      Quite right – and I'm sure you'll be glad to spend twenty years rebuilding Dunedin's harbourside walls for your crimes. They could use a bit of work, and the council are going to blow all the money on a wharfside white elephant to put the stadium to shame.

    • Brigid 1.2

      What an incredible display of ignorance Gosman. I wont bother to provide a link that may enlighten you as if you wished to know the facts you would know them already.

      Rather than attempting to justify it with spurious claims you could be proud of your racism Gosman.

      Declare yourself fully and entirely racist against Maori.

    • Ad 1.3

      I have a framed set of maps on one of my bedroom walls.

      They are from an original set of Government statutes from the late 1860s.

      They are part of the statute which generated confiscation lines across the North Island .

      Hundreds of millions of acres taken, because the rule of law was the new code for British military war.

      There are a few copies of this statute around.

      The maps are good for my conscience.

    • michelle 1.4

      Cause they were dumb gosman the english sent their best armies to other territories so they were stuck with whoever they had left and they were running out of money as there cannons weren't working on the fortified pas with trenches. So instead they used the pen to take mostly everything

  2. mac1 2

    "Korero, waiata, and tears — it was an extraordinarily emotional day for politicians and the 100 or so people who had travelled from Parihaka to Parliament to witness the occasion."

    It was emotional, too, for those like myself who saw the passing of the Bill on TV. I first heard of Te Whiti in 1966 on my first visit to a marae somewhere in the Hutt. I was from Christchurch with other senior school students from all over the country a t a leadership conference. The organisers saw fit to take us to a marare. The marae saw fit to speak of Te Whiti. He next turned up at Uni in NZ History. And then thirty years ago my family and I visited Parihaka, after hearing from Wanganui Maori fot he support they gave to Parihaka.

    Again, we went this year. Unbeknown to us the Bill was on the House agenda. I was so happy and grateful that this was enacted.

    There are some great books we got in New Plymouth. "Ask the Mountain", above, Danny Keenan's "Te Whiti o Rongmai and the Resistance of Parihaka" and Ian Church's "Salutary Pinishment" on the subject of those men taken to Dunedin in 1869-72 and 1879-81.

    Three years after hearing first about Te Whiti o Rongomai I became a conscientious objector. Mahatma Ghandi was inspired by him. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Te Whiti and his teachings. He himself is a mountain in my ethical landscape.

    • weka 2.1

      thanks for this firsthand story mac1. Also appreciate the long time frame you are describing here.

      I grew up in a very white part of NZ, it still shocks me how much I missed out on.

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