Parihaka still flies message of peace
Taranaki was the setting for some of the bitterest fighting over land between Maori and Pakeha in colonial times. There is no more potent symbol of that conflict than the village of Parihaka.
Under the leadership of Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti-o-Rongomai, the people of Parihaka conducted a campaign of pacifist civil disobedience to resist land confiscation. On November 5th, 1881 armed constabulary invaded Parihaka, arrested Tohu, Te Whiti, and many of their followers. Later troops demolished the village and destroyed crops and livestock. Many of Parihaka’s inhabitants were imprisoned for years, many without trial.
Parihaka has a rich spiritual heritage. Both Tohu and Te Whiti received education from early missionaries before they turned to the indigenous Pai Marire religious movement and later developed their own teaching.
Today there are no churches at Parihaka. There is however a monthly potai or time of fellowship where people remember those who have passed on and discuss the issues of the day.
Mahora Tai Rawhiti is a guardian of Tohu Kakahi’s marae at Parihaka. She is a descendent of one of the Te Komaru, 12 men the second Maori king Tawhiao appointed to look after Parihaka. Mahora says Tohu’s marae is named Toroanui after the albatross that is said to have brought him the message of peace.
In addition to a sleeping house and dining hall, Toroanui has a large house that was built as a place of learning. It has fallen into disrepair and is currently being restored. Mahora believes that when it is completed it will play an important role as a place where Taranaki iwi can come to resolve their differences.
Mahora has applied to become a minita-a-iwi in the Methodist Church.