At the beginning of November our minds turn to Guy Fawkes and fireworks. But on 5 November 1881,Taranaki iwi and friends were faced with Bryce’s cannon and 1600 volunteers and Armed Constabulary troops. Unlike Guy Fawkes, Te Whiti o Rongomai, Tohu Kakahi and their followers embraced passive resistance. These were the men who struggled to prevent seizure of their whenua in Taranaki, by ploughing the land, and removing survey pegs, all of which led to the plundering of Parihaka by government forces, on that day in 1881.
We have some great books in the library, telling and retelling these tragic times for iwi:
Days of darkness : Taranaki 1878-1884 by Hazel Riseborough
“What happened at Parihaka is one of New Zealand’s great untold historical stories. As the title indicates, this book deals with a dark period in New Zealand history; a period too few people know about. Te Whiti led Maori tribes in their response to the government’s attempts to seize Maori land.” (catalogue summary).
Ask that mountain by Dick Scott.
“Journalist and historian Dick Scott broke new ground with Ask That Mountain. Scott draws on official papers, settler manuscripts and oral histories to give first complete account of what took place at Parihaka, a small settlement at the foot of Mount Taranaki where the chiefs Te Whiti and Tohu opposed the colonial government in the latter half of the nineteenth century û making one of the world’s first recorded campaigns of passive resistance.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
In August 2000-January 2001, Wellington City Gallery hosted a millennium exhibition – Parihaka : the art of Passive Resistance. The book of the exhibition, edited by Te Miringa Hohaia, Gregory O’Brien, and Lara Strongman and published by City Gallery, Wellington, Victoria University Press, and Parihaka Pā Trustees, brings together beautiful works and images, including an interesting collection of waiata, poi manu, and whakawai, originally gathered and preserved by Te Whiti and Tohu.
2010 brought Contested ground = Te whenua i tohea : the Taranaki Wars 1860-1881 edited by Kelvin Day and published by Huia Publishers. This book won CLL – Copyright Licensing Ltd Education Publishing Awards : Best Book in Higher Education Winner. and the History Award of Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Awards, Massey University, 2010.
To understand the history of Taranaki iwi and one of their unique cultural developments – the Parihaka poi manu, you may be interested in viewing Waka Huia’s videos on the tribal history of Taranaki on YouTube.
Come, hear these stories on 7 November, Central Library, Ground Floor, at 12.30 pm.
(Parihaka image used with permission: Parihaka, 1881 by George Clarendon Beale; Ref. A65.651; Collection of Puke Ariki, New Plymouth.)