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Parihaka Day commemoration in Nelson

Join us to share the story of Parihaka, and celebrate the uniqueness of our people, land and spirit. 5 November, 1-2pm, Nelson Cathedral.

Remembering the past to guide us peacefully into the future.

Parihaka day commemorates the outstanding non violent actions of the Parihaka people, and their leaders Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai, in 1881, in response to the invasion of their land by government troops.

Te Whiti and Tohu were Christian pacifists and promoters of spiritual and economic growth who established the non-violent community of Parihaka in the 1860s, as a refuge for Maori from Taranaki and further afield who had become homeless after the confiscation of their land.

Te Whiti had observed at close quarters the land wars in the 1860s in Waitara and elsewhere, where Maori had taken up arms to defend their land and lost both their lives and the land. He saw violence as counterproductive, and that it failed.

In the days that followed the invasion at Parihaka, 1600 people were forcibly dispersed, while 600 were allowed to remain. Houses and crops were destroyed, animals slaughtered. After Parihaka was destroyed, the constabulary fanned out over the countryside to wreak more extensive damage. Still there was no violent resistance. Not one shot was fired, not one life lost. The spirit of non-violence prevailed.

Te Whiti and Tohu were charged with sedition. Te Whiti told the judge: “It is not my wish that evil should come to the two races, My wish is for the whole of us to live peaceably and happily on the land.” Both were sent to Addington Prison in the South Island where they served 16 months.They spent 7 months in Nelson, under house arrest, somewhere in Nile Street, and later in the Atawhai area (Whakapuaka Road).

Upon release, both returned to Parihaka, which in the mid-1880s rejuvenated and became renowned as one of the most advanced municipal communities in the country. Te Whiti continued to preach non-violence and promote harmony with the settlers and was imprisoned twice more over land issues. Both Te Whiti and Tohu died in 1907.

Because Maori resisted this invasion creatively and non-violently, this is an episode of our history that should be known to every New Zealander and taught as an important part of our founding history.

Their movement of non-violent resistance to state tyranny deserves to be placed alongside the movements a century later in India and the US led by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jnr. Indeed, there is evidence Gandhi knew of and was inspired by the resistance at Parihaka.

The ongoing legacy of Parihaka is one of living in harmony with the land and humanity.

Article type: Meetings and events
Start date: November 5, 2014
Start time: 01:00 PM
End Date: November 5, 2014
End Time: 02:00 PM
Venue:Nelson Cathedral

Cost: no cost

Contact Email: parihaka.day.nelson@gmail.com