“Inside keeping the silence of peace at Parihaka”

This title of a lecture by Maata Wharehoka comes from her lived experience of Parihaka for more than thirty years, since she arrived, newly-married to one of the local people.  She has become one of their highly respected kuia.

The occasion was  one of a series of lectures organised at the Auckland campus of the University of Otago by its Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, which is now in its 10th year.

Maata’s talk about the challenges facing Parihaka people, because of their diverse whakapapa and the Crown’s inability to deal with them as an iwi, was enlightening. 

The  recompense they have been able to achieve so far for the invasion and destruction of Parihaka in 1881 is a small sum for establishing an education centre for visitors to the marae.  They are still seeking ways to fund the major upgrade of their three marae and the village infrastructure.

Maata touched on some of the internal differences which have existed over the years, and the silences about them, and then about the strengths of the current young leadership group in working with the people and the government to move forward creatively.

A special Working Party, Kawe Tutaki,  was established during 2014-15, with representatives of  Parihaka leadership, Taranaki Iwi and the Government, and it  appointed Maata Wharehoka as its project manager to oversee a number of projects that provide advice and information to support their work and  to organise for various hui  held at Parihaka.

It continues to appall us that the Parihaka story, widely acknowledged internationally as a beacon for non-violent resistance to injustice, is still so little understood in our own country.  Our young people are entitled to know their history- they will cope with its challenges far better than earlier generations, and would undoubtedly support much greater investment in Parihaka to ensure its historic significance continues to inspire future generations, both here and throughout the world.

Parihaka has its own website:  www.parihaka.maori.nz

And Christchurch librarians have put together an excellent  list of recommended reading – some for children as well as adult works- about Parihaka, the history, the artists inspired by its story, and  many other aspects of its story:


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