Parihaka – NZ’s war and peace

This week’s theme at which I explore provocative action in New Zealand is land.  It’s timely (and I’d love to say planned) that it’s the week in which Parihaka is remembered by many.

Parihaka is a story that needs telling in Aotearoa.  Children of this country should grow up knowing about Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi before they know anything of Ghandi and Guy Fawkes.

Check out this article I wrote this week about the continued calls for a Parihaka Commemoration day to be established in our country.


In 1880 the Crown decided to build a road to Parihaka. When it reached there the armed constabulary pulled down fences. This was a problem for the agriculturally focused community and instead of retaliating with guns and violence, they chose a peaceful protest.

Each morning when the forces would get up, the fences they had pulled down were rebuilt overnight by Māori. Nearly 400 fencers and plowmen throughout Taranaki were arrested during this time.  “No court proceedings were conducted by any Supreme Court trial and special legislation was passed, first to defer them and then to dispense with the trials altogether. Subsequently, all prisoners were shipped to jail in Dunedin, Hokitika, Littleton and Ripapa Island for 2 years on charges of forcible entry, malicious injury to property, riot.” (

The day Parihaka was invaded the attackers were greeted by more than 2000 villagers sitting quietly, children singing and no weapons in sight.

The way these peaceful protesters were treated is hard to comprehend…and yet right now in the Standing Rock Reservation peaceful protesters are being subjected to harsh treatment as they try and protect their land and their future.

It is no wonder that Māori are standing in support of Standing Rock Protesters.  Indigenous cultures have a deep connection and respect for the land.  The current Standing Rock protests will feel very familiar to Māori .

“Ka mate te whenua, ka mate te tangata,
Ka kātoro te ahi ki runga ki te whenua tāoro atu ai ki te takutai moana”

“Land and people will die
and fire will spread across the extremities of the land”

Yesterday it was announced that a date has been set for an annual commemoration of the Land Wars, commencing in 2017. Six years ago Otorohanga College students Leah Bell and Waimarama Anderson first raised the idea. Last December they presented a 12,000 signature petition to parliament.

Another generation – provoking action for change!


2 thoughts on “Parihaka – NZ’s war and peace

    1. I agree and yet it is a really important part of our historical landscape. I for one would pick Parihaka over Guy Fawkes any day. We have a lot we can learn from what happened. There is a lot to celebrate and be proud of in terms of the people of Taranaki’s response to injustice and violence.


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