Peace hīkoi to Parihaka

On Friday a Green crew walked with the peace hīkoi from Ōkato to Parihaka. Some of us were from Parliament and some were party members from Taranaki and further afield. It was a cloudy but gentle day and at one point Taranaki maunga emerged in snowy splendour to urge us on. We had some excellent conversations about peace and justice based on Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd spoke with Jan Logie and me about his belief that no mayor should wear the chains of office without understanding the need to negotiate a more effective governance arrangement with the manawhenua of that place.

We agreed that referenda on Māori wards are not effective, and that we need a deeper conversation about local governance where tangata whenua define the relationship that would work for them in a genuine dialogue with the local community and its non-Māori leaders.

Andrew Judd peace hikoi
Andrew Judd speaks to the marchers

I had a great catch up with colleagues like Richard Manning of Canterbury University, who has led research on how we teach, or largely fail to teach, our country’s history to our young people. I talked about the Waitara river pollution as an issue of peace and justice with Te Ātiawa people.

I met young Pākehā who were walking for a peaceful future and an end to racism in Taranaki and everywhere else. Everyone from the Dean of New Plymouth Cathedral to the students from Ōpunake High School had a positive reason for walking.

As we got slowly closer to Parihaka there was a feeling of excitement as well as some sore feet. We were close to the inspirational heart of non- violent resistance where the people have maintained a profound tradition based on the teachings and mana of Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi. We were walking the same road that the soldiers had walked when they came to destroy Parihaka and its threatening visionary commitment to non-violence and collective decision making.

The karanga and haka which called us into the village carried us back to those traditions so that we might all walk forward together. The manawhenua asked Andrew to carry the drum of Parihaka as we arrived into that humble and historic space.

I was so grateful to our young orator Jack McDonald, who spoke for the Green Party on that paepae. Not only did he speak eloquently for us and the hīkoi, but he is also a mokopuna of Parihaka and a Pākehā tradition of non-violence exemplified by his extraordinary ancestor Archibald Baxter. Parihaka and Archibald Baxter offer us a powerful option for active and principled non-violence in the face of militarism.

Parihaka is a living village without fences, and Andrew and all of the hīkoi were warmly welcomed. It was a moment when peace and mutual respect felt tangible. Our grief for all the violence in our world and the painful awareness of Pākehā privilege was transformed into a sense of community and peace. Thank you Taranaki, thank you Parihaka, and thank you Andrew for political leadership that really helps make a better country.

3 Comments Posted

  1. NOTICE how the TRAUMA of VIOLENCE and WAR is STILL WITH US. And NZers think the Middle East will end soon??? Cmon NZ. OBSERVE the REAL IMPACT of VIOLENCE on Human Psychology!!! And NOW of course MODERN TECH to really DO THE JOB. Bio war. Drone war. Nano war. Gun war. Cyber war. Environmental war. ALL for the SHITTY Capitalist who for SOME STRANGE REASON feels the need to DOMINATE the Earth! No LIVE and LET LIVE as if CARING is SOMEHOW HARMFULL???

  2. I’m centrist rather than leftist but I suspect this was a good move, Catherine. I was born In New Plymouth, left there at adolescence, and never heard what happened at Parihaka from anyone. Whenever the name was mentioned, it was just as another local village – no elaboration. When I read the account by Dick Reade, the communist, in his Ask That Mountain, it was a revelation that moved me profoundly, so I got my own copy of that book.

    I also acquired & read Archie Baxter’s We Shall Not Cease, likewise impressive. Was surprised to hear from you that Jack is related to him and glad to hear that he spoke on our behalf at Parihaka. I wonder if Reade is correct in asserting that Mahatma Gandhi learned the non-violent resistance strategy from hearing about Te Whiti’s exemplary conduct of the Parihaka community. I thought it wonderfully mythic at the time. Later I thought Peter Jackson ought to follow up Lord of the Rings with a movie about the whole saga. If you know him please pass the suggestion on!

    I remember my father’s father telling us as kids that he’d lived at Parihaka, on at least a couple of occasions. Since he was born & grew up at Huiakama (on the other side of the mountain) it’s not unlikely and he was never a liar. But he told us that with a knowing look on his face as though we were meant to be impressed – yet never explained to us anything about what it meant for him, or even anything about the place! The ’50s, you know, NZ culture as stultifying, repressed conformism. It was only ever possible to utter conventional platitudes all the time. The smug sanctimony of the christian paragon of the community. He was Station Master for the Railways, later rose to Superintendent of the entire Taranaki rail network, back in the day when everyone used trains all the time.

    So yeah, if the Mayor now is trying to bridge the cultural divide, not surprising if he’s flushing out residual racism in the people of New Plymouth. I went to Parihaka myself some years after reading about it, feeling a deep need to. Walked into that public meeting house, looked around. Was a fine calm day, yet the ambience was sombre. Nobody came out of any of the dwellings. Half an hour there, never saw a soul. I sensed the immensity of the depression induced by the settler government over a century earlier. I hope now the folk there are shifting out of that, and I hope the pakeha locals will reconcile with them.

    And we mustn’t omit to factor in the genocide of the Waikato marauders, that decimated the Taranaki tribes a generation before Parihaka. People who depict the situation as bicultural are misrepresenting history…

  3. The racism is a tool for classism.

    Note how the ownership of land is achieved by propaganda backed by force and legislation. The deals are done out of public view but the results are plain to see.
    Now, more that ever, the rich investor groups parasitise land, industry, trade and infrastructure with Govts plying the processes used.

    The widening gap between classes is not effectively challenged as the ruling classes control media and the influence controlling just outcomes making a mockery of any current democracy we aspire to.

    Maori had land and depended on it. The wicked lot did not want to hand land over. Fancy that.

    There is no compensation available to address the crimes committed.

    Pitting Pakeha against Maori is a devisive tool used to confuse the issues of power taking any opportunity to profit regardless of the destruction caused and consequences for immediate and future generations.

    It still continues today as the wider environment and public commons is diminished for the profit of a few.

    Parihaka is a bold story of resistance but the perpetrators and their ill gotten booty are still in place with any meagre settlement met by the wider population including Maori in following generations.
    The ruling class of the time got away with it and profited immeasurably compounded over time.

    Class war is hardly new but always heavily in disguise.

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