‘Parihaka has waited a long time for this day’

by Chris Finlayson
Sun 11 Jun 2017
15 min read
4
  • Te Whiti o Rongomai
  • Parihaka around 1890
  • Chris Finlayson arriving at Parihaka to apologise on behalf of the Crown. Photo: Maiki Sherman
  • Chris Finlayson & Te Ururoa Flavell at Parihaka. Photo: Maiki Sherman
  • Puna Wano-Bryant, Chair of the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust, & Ruakere Hond. Photo: Jack Tautokai McDonald
  • Photo: Jack Tautokai McDonald

On Friday, at the historic Parihaka reconciliation ceremony, the Crown finally apologised to the people of Parihaka for the actions which had burdened them "with an intergenerational legacy of grievance and deprivation, and which have burdened the Crown with a legacy of shame."

Here is the full apology, which was delivered by the Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.

 

Mihi
Te maunga tupuna, Taranaki
T
ū mai, tū mai rā
Ngā uri whakaheke
Koutou ng
ā kaikawe o ngā tohutohu
a Tohu K
ākahi, a Te Whiti o Rongomai
Karanga mai, mihi mai, whakatau mai.
He r
ā tino nui tēnei mo te Karauna
He r
ā tino nui tēnei mo te Motu
T
ēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

Introduction

We are at Parihaka today to participate in this historic ceremony which marks the reconciliation between Parihaka and the Crown. This is a day when we need to look back at the history of the Crown’s actions at Parihaka and acknowledge the suffering those actions have caused for generations of people at Parihaka.

This is an important part of reconciliation. But it is also a day when we look forward to a future where the vision of Parihaka is finally achieved. For the vision of Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai was not one of protest and resistance. Theirs was a vision of self-determination, cooperation and peace.

In the past the Crown felt threatened by that vision and sought to undermine it. Today the Crown comes to Parihaka to make a contribution to the fulfilment of that vision. Parihaka has waited a long time for this day.

When I was here a year ago to sign the compact of trust I spoke about the sense of responsibility I feel as Attorney-General for this reconciliation. The colonial government failed to uphold the rule of law at Parihaka and I am grateful for the opportunity, as the current Attorney-General, to be able to play a part in helping right that past wrong.

This is not a Treaty settlement. However, as Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, I know that reconciling with Parihaka is a vital step towards addressing historic grievances in Taranaki, as will be the signing of an agreement in principle with Ngāti Maru and the completion of negotiations around Taranaki Maunga and the signing of a milestone document in the Taranaki Maunga negotiations. Te Ururoa Flavell and I are also involved in ongoing discussions with the Taranaki Trust Board about the annuity.

The history

Those of you here today know the history of Parihaka, but it is important to put the events of the past on the record. First, I want to say something about Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai.

As young men, both received formal instruction in traditional Māori knowledge and in Christian theology. Their spiritual and political views, and the principles that came to underpin the community they established at Parihaka, therefore drew on ideas from Pākehā and Māori systems of thought.

Both men had lived for a time at the mission farm at Warea on the Taranaki coast. It had its own flour-mill and became economically successful by selling flour and other produce to settlers in New Plymouth. These experiences contributed to the two leaders' lifelong promotion of peace and their determination not to reject the Pākehā world, but to engage with it for the economic and other benefits that it offered.

I now want to outline what happened at Parihaka. I do this because while these events are among the most shameful in the history of this country, they are even today not known or understood.

In part, this is because the history of Parihaka is an uncomfortable one. For some it may raise questions about our history that we would rather not confront.

For many people here today, the history of Parihaka is uncomfortable for a different reason. For them, the sense of grievance that arises from that history is anything but historical. It is remembered and lived every day.

That is why the Crown comes today offering an apology to the people of Parihaka for actions it committed almost 140 years ago.

It is also important to recognise that the Crown’s response to the challenge of Parihaka deprived this settlement’s residents of fundamental legal rights which applied as much to them as to any other New Zealander.

Today, it is almost impossible to imagine any New Zealand government responding to the protests of its citizens by legislating away their right to a trial, legalising their continuing detention, or retrospectively legitimising the destruction of their homes and possessions.

But these things did occur. That is why they must be recorded and remembered.

Some in our country today are very vocal about one law for all. A fine sentiment which was not applied to Parihaka citizens in 1881. That is why we are here today.

Ultimately, there can be no reconciliation where one party remembers while the other forgets. This is why the Crown’s apology, which Te Ururoa Flavell and I are about to read, includes a brief summary of the history of the Crown at Parihaka, and why the apology will be recorded both in the deed of reconciliation and in the legislation that will be passed later to serve as the permanent and legally-binding record of the Crown’s commitment to Parihaka.

A few short years after guaranteeing to Māori the undisturbed possession of any lands they wished to retain, the Crown began systematically to dispossess the tangata whenua of Taranaki of their lands.

By purchase deed, force of arms, confiscation and statute, the Crown took the rich lands of Taranaki and left its people impoverished, demoralised, and vilified.

The Crown reiterates the apologies it has made to iwi of Taranaki for its many failures to uphold the principles of partnership and good faith that the Treaty of Waitangi embodies, and for the immense harm those actions have caused to generations of Māori in Taranaki.

The Crown now offers the following apology in English and Te Reo Māori to the people of Parihaka, past and present.

Crown Apology

In 1866, the settlement of Parihaka was established as a final refuge for Taranaki hapū whose homes and cultivations had been repeatedly destroyed by Crown troops, and who had recently suffered the indiscriminate confiscation of traditional lands that had sustained them and their tupuna for generations, and which formed the very bedrock of their identity.

At a time of unprecedented loss and continuing Crown violence, the people of Parihaka chose to establish their new community under principles of compassion, equality, unity, and self-sufficiency.

Under the leadership of Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai, the community at Parihaka asserted their customary rights to land and political autonomy through symbolic acts of protest while promoting peaceful engagement between Māori and Pākehā. Parihaka became a place of refuge and a source of inspiration for thousands of people from across Taranaki and from elsewhere in Aotearoa.

The Crown acknowledges that it 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.

The Crown therefore offers its deepest apologies to the people of Parihaka for all its failures, and in particular for the following actions:

: For imprisoning Parihaka residents for their participation in the ploughing and fencing campaigns of 1879 and 1880, and for promoting laws that breached natural justice by enabling those protestors to be held in South Island jails without trial for periods that assumed the character of indefinite detention;

: For depriving those political prisoners of their basic human rights, and for inflicting unwarranted hardships both on them and on members of the whānau and hapū who remained behind and sustained Parihaka in their absence;

: For invading Parihaka in November 1881, forcibly evicting many people who had sought refuge there, dismantling and desecrating their homes and sacred buildings, stealing heirlooms, and systematically destroying their cultivations and livestock;

: For the rapes committed by Crown troops in the aftermath of the invasion, and for the immeasurable and enduring harm that this caused to the women of Parihaka, their families, and their uri until the present day;

: For the arrest and detention of Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai for sixteen months without trial in the South Island;

: For its imposition of a pass system which regulated entry into Parihaka, denied residents the freedom of movement, and prevented supporters from providing Parihaka with supplies following the invasion;

: For compounding these injustices by returning land under a regime that deprived owners of control and ultimately the ownership of much of the Parihaka reserves, and which remain in place to this day.

The Crown denied Parihaka the right to develop and sustain itself on its own terms, and then failed for many years to address the resulting grievances in an appropriate way.

The Crown profoundly regrets these actions, which have burdened the people of Parihaka with an intergenerational legacy of grievance and deprivation, and which have burdened the Crown with a legacy of shame.

On the 7th day of November every year, the whānau of Parihaka come together to remember those tupuna who, in 1881, met the Crown’s soldiers with songs and gifts of food, and who honoured their commitment to peace while their homes and gardens were destroyed and leaders imprisoned.

The Crown now joins Parihaka in paying tribute to the men, women, and children who responded to the Crown’s tyranny with dignity, discipline and immense courage. It is the Crown’s sincerest hope that through this apology, Parihaka and the Crown can now acknowledge their shared past, move beyond it, and begin to work together to fulfil the vision of peaceful coexistence that Tohu and Te Whiti described.

Deed of Reconciliation

The Deed of Reconciliation we are about to sign is a legally binding agreement between the Crown and Parihaka which sets out what we will do to mend our relationship now and into the future. The deed contains the historical summary and Crown apology I have just read.

It also includes a legacy statement that describes, from Parihaka’s perspective, the key phases in the history of the settlement, the principles that guided — and continue to guide — the Parihaka community, and the future aspirations for this unique settlement.

The deed also includes a relationship agreement between nine Crown organisations, three local authorities and Parihaka. Under the agreement the Crown and local authorities commit to assist you with your development projects.

The agreement will be administered by Te Puni Kōkiri. They have considerable experience with similar agreements and a strong relationship with Parihaka already. I want to thank the councils for being part of this agreement and for the offers of assistance they have made. 

The deed also establishes an annual leaders’ forum where we can discuss progress with your development plans and any other matters that affect our relationship. The Minister for Māori Development, and other Ministers as required, will represent the Crown on the forum. The forum gives you access to the highest echelons of government.

There is a commitment in the deed to develop Parihaka legislation. The legislation will be developed between us and will form a permanent public record of Parihaka’s history, the Crown’s apology for its actions and our commitment to a new relationship. Work has already started on drafting a bill and it is my intention to introduce legislation before the House rises in August.

Financial contribution

Finally, the deed records the fact that the Crown will make a special payment of $9 million towards Parihaka’s development. This money will help you to fix many of the problems you have with power, waste water and other infrastructure.

I appreciate that some of you were disappointed that the Crown wasn’t able to make a larger financial contribution. I understand that.

However, I see this as the first step towards revitalising Parihaka and I am confident that over time more funding will become available through government programmes and from private or legacy donors.

Acknowledgements

Before I conclude I want to acknowledge some of the people who have contributed to this reconciliation process.

I acknowledge the leaders of Taranaki Iwi here today. It was their determination, back in 2015, to see special assistance provided to Parihaka that set us on the path to this reconciliation ceremony.

I want to thank the members of Kawe Tutaki:

Dame Tariana Turia, who chaired the working group and has been a strong and enduring advocate for her people;

The Rt Hon Jim Bolger, who went to school in this area but lamentably was taught very little of Parihaka’s history;

Hon Mahara Okeroa, who grew up at Parihaka and represented Taranaki Iwi on Kawe Tutaki;

Amokura Panoho and Dr Ruakere Hond, who so ably represented Parihaka.

Their expertise and experience was crucial in helping the Crown to understand what was needed to heal its relationship with Parihaka. It is good to see members of Kawe Tutaki here today.

I must make special mention of the trustees of the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust.

I know very well how demanding this work has been. You have gone to great lengths to ensure that all the members of your community had the opportunity to participate in the reconciliation process and you have been guided by the community’s views at all times. It is thanks to your efforts, leadership and courage we have been able to reach agreement on the deed to be signed today.

On the Crown side, while I have been the spokesperson I am part of a much larger team. I want to thank my Cabinet colleagues who have supported this work and in particular the Minister for Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell. He has been a strong advocate for Parihaka. I have been grateful for the interest and advice I have received from local members of Parliament.

I also want to thank my officials at the Office of Treaty Settlements who have supported me and led many of the discussions with the Papakāinga Trust. I also acknowledge the representatives from other government agencies and councils who have contributed to this work and made a commitment to continue to support Parihaka.

Conclusion

The deed provisions I have described provide a strong platform for the future of Parihaka. But the deed alone cannot make vision into reality.

It is now up to us — the people of Parihaka and the people of the Crown — to bring these provisions to life. This will require us all to work, to talk, to make decisions, and to continually remind ourselves about what the ultimate vision for Parihaka is.

In this I am immensely encouraged by the fact that this work is already happening. I am encouraged by the genuine goodwill and trust which has grown between the Crown and the representatives of Parihaka over the last two years. I am encouraged by the determined and principled leadership of the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust.

Above all, I am encouraged by the generosity of spirit and the extraordinary humanity of you, the people of Parihaka.

I hope that one day your legacy will be understood and valued by all New Zealanders. I know this is your ambition and it is one the government supports.

I want today to mark a turning point in our relationship. A day that future generations will look back upon and see as the time when Parihaka again welcomed the Crown, and when we put aside the conflict and disharmony of the past and committed to working together to forge a better future for Parihaka and for New Zealand.

Tēnā koutou, Tēnā koutou, Tēnā koutou katoa.

 

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