November 05, 2019 / Events

5th of November, Remembering Parihaka

Today is Parihaka Day, a day that marks a significant event in New Zealand’s history. We wrote a story that you can share with your tamariki if you would like to talk about this important event in the classroom. 

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Over 130 years ago in 1866 there was a peaceful Pā on the lower slopes of Mount Taranaki called Parihaka. It lay between the Taranaki Coast and Mount Taranaki. Only a few years after the Treaty of Waitangi signing in 1840, which promised Māori they keep their land, Crown soldiers were marching onto many Pā and taking away their land by force. 

Two Māori leaders, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi, built Parihaka as a place where whānau could find safety from the war that was happening around them. All people of different iwi were welcomed and there were a few thousand people living at Parihaka at this time. The hapū would wear raukura on their head to show that they loved each other and cared for their land. The people of Parihaka were peaceful people.

One day, the people of Parihaka heard that Crown soldiers were coming. This meant a war could happen. They worked in groups to build fences, dig up their land to grow crops and use the land to show this was their home. 

Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi heard the soldiers were coming to destroy Parihaka – their home. They told everyone to come to the marae for a hui. Together, everyone decided that they would wait for the soldiers and pōwhiri them when they arrived. 

On the 5th of November in 1881, thousands of soldiers arrived at Parihaka. They were greeted by the whānau of Parihaka waiting peacefully. The women had baked many loaves of bread for the hungry soldiers and the tamariki sung beautiful waiata and danced with their poi. 

Although they couldn’t stop the soldiers from coming into Parihaka, they still stood tall for the people. The soldiers came and took Te Whiti o Rongomai, Tohu Kākahi and the other men who lived at Parihaka to a prison, far away to the Te Wai Pounamu. When Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi were allowed to leave prison two years later, they came back and rebuilt their papa kāinga. It had been a horrible time for the whānau of Parihaka. Their sacred homes, buildings, food crops, and livestock, were all destroyed by the soldiers.

Just recently, over 130 years later, the Crown made an apology to the hapū of Parihaka and Taranaki about the way they had been treated so unfairly. The Crown said they had done wrong, they had made bad choices and had hurt the whānau of Parihaka and their descendants.

Parihaka is a small village today, but its spirit stands tall with its story of peace! 

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