Remembering Te Pāhuatanga – Learn About Parihaka

On the coast of Aotearoa, near Mount Taranaki, there is a very important place called Parihaka which has a lot to teach us about the history of injustice in New Zealand, and the importance of hope and peace.

In the years following the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840, colonial greed and racism enabled the government to unlawfully confiscate land and wage war against groups of Māori who sought to defend their territory.

During the 1860s, the community at Parihaka became a haven for different groups of Māori, and a place of resistance to land confiscation and encroaching settlement. The people of Parihaka had a peaceful campaign, led by Te Whiti and Tohu, that consisted of ploughing up confiscated land, removing surveying pegs, and placing fencing.

In response, the government arrested these peaceful people and sent them far away, to Wellington, and to the South Island where they were forced to build roads. On 5 November 1881, Parihaka was invaded by a military force of 1600 armed constabulary. This is called Te Rā o te Pāhua, the day of plunder.  Māori people who were not originally from the Parihaka area were forced to leave. Violence was inflicted against the people. Their leaders were arrested. Buildings were damaged. Te Whiti and Tohu were held without trial for two years, before returning home in 1883.

Despite all of this harm, Parihaka was rebuilt by its people, and still thrives today. Parihaka reminds us of what hope and working together can achieve, especially in the face of injustice.

The memorial at Pukeahu War Memorial Park

A Place to Remember

At Pukeahu War Memorial Park, on the north-west corner of the old Dominion Museum building, there is a memorial dedicated to the people of Taranaki and Parihaka who were imprisoned in the Mount Cook barracks. The memorial represents a prisoner wrapped up in a blanket. The base of the monument is made of stones from Taranaki. As you wander through Wellington, this is the perfect spot to take a moment to reflect on the Parihaka legacy of peace.

Online resources for tamariki to learn more about Parihaka

Image: Parihaka by Josiah Martin on DigitalNZ.

Parihaka | AnyQuestions

AnyQuestions offers free online homework help to New Zealand school students. AnyQuestions provides a librarian chat service, from 1pm to 6pm Monday to Friday during the school year. The website also has great ManyAnswers articles on important topics and places. This Parihaka article will help show you more great places to find information!

Another great resource is Remembering Te Pāhuatanga o Parihaka | Story | DigitalNZ which brings together photos, biographies, and oral history interviews along with an article which discusses how waiata and poi have helped pass on stories.

We also have further articles on our general library blog for readers of all ages: Parihaka – Library Blog ( Wellington City Libraries is grateful to have shared a Kōrero with Kura Moeahu – Library Blog.

With some help from teachers or caregivers, older tamariki might be able to use some of the longer books about Parihaka that can be found in our booklist: Remembering Te Pahuatanga o Parihaka | (

Readers of all ages are encouraged to check out the following books!

Pukapuka for tamariki to learn more about Parihaka

Syndetics book coverMaumahara ki tērā Nōema / nā Jennifer Beck rāua ko Lindy Fisher ; nā Kawata Teepa i whakamāori.
“It’s almost Guy Fawkes Night, and at the school speech competition Andy talks about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. The children cheer excitedly, thinking Andy will win the contest. But then, Aroha gets up, wearing a white feather in her hair, and tells the story of another fifth of November u the invasion of Parihaka in 1881.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book coverRemember that November / written by Jennifer Beck ; illustrated by Lindy Fisher.
“It’s almost Guy Fawkes Night, and at the school speech competition Andy talks about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. The children cheer excitedly, thinking Andy will win the contest. But then, Aroha gets up, wearing a white feather in her hair, and tells the story of another fifth of November u the invasion of Parihaka in 1881.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPeace warriors / Raymond Huber (2015)

This book tells the heroic stories of brave New Zealander’s and people around the world who used non-violent resistance to pursue paths of peace. One of the stories is of Archibald Baxter, who refused to fight in World War 1 because he did not believe in killing. He faced brutal punishment and rejection for his courageous choice.

Keenan Book Cover
Amorangi and Millie’s trip through time / Keenan, Lauren
“Amorangi and Millie lost their mum. Their only clue to her whereabouts is a carving on a tree that says, I’m in the past! Rescue me! To do this, Amorangi and Millie must travel up every branch of their family tree and collect an object from each ancestor they meet. They must then be back in the modern day before the sun sets, or they’ll all be trapped forever in the past. In their travels, the children experience aspects of events in New Zealand history, such as the invasion of Parihaka, the Great Depression, World War Two, the Musket Wars and the eruption of Mount Taranaki. They also experience changes in the town and landscape, the attitudes of people and the way people live their lives”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Fresh New Fiction

Atticus Claw Settles a Score by Jennifer Gray (sequel to Atticus Claw, Breaks the Law)

Atticus Grammatticus Cattypus Claw, the world’s greatest REFORMED cat burglar is back. This time, the tabby with talent is on the right side of the law. And when Jimmy Magpie and his gang are busted out of jail by a mysterious villain and an evil cat called Ginger Biscuit, Atticus knows from bitter experience he’s going to need all his skill and courage to catch them.




A Very Peculiar Plague by Catherine Jinks 

The thrilling second book in this 3-part series, set in a time when science clashes with superstition and monsters lurk in chimneys. Jem takes on the role of bogler’s apprentice and gets the fright of his life.





Osbert The Avenger by Christopher William Hill

Meet Osbert Brinkhoff, the unlikeliest of avengers.  His is a tale of dark delights and ghastly goings-on, of injustice and revenge.  The Villains are VICIOUS.  The settings are SINISTER.  And good does NOT always prevail…  If you prefer CLEAVERS to kittens and FIENDS to fairies…. then welcome to the GRUESOMELY FUNNY tales from Schwartzgarten.; (taken from book cover)





Project Huia by Des Hunt

“Logan’s grandfather grew up near Palmerston North in the 1940s. One day, he and his sister Mavis spotted a beautiful and unusual bird in the kowhai tree outside their house: it was a huia bird, which was believed to be extinct. The bird flew away, and in an attempt to photograph it they managed to track it deep into the Manawatu Gorge. It was a dangerous journey through two train tunnels, made even more so when the horrible Carson boys got wind of their mission and decided to try and find the huia first so they could shoot it and sell its highly valuable feathers. More than 60 years later, 11-year-old Logan has returned to the Manawatu with Grandpop and a scientist to try and solve the mystery of what happened to the huia that he and Mavis found all those years ago. Grandpop must remember all the details of the events of many years ago. Can the group rely on his version of the events, and find the huia’s final resting place? Will the huia still be there, and will its DNA still be valuable for scientific research into NZ’s native fauna? And whoever would have thought that those Carsons are still living in the area and on the loose, and still up to their nasty tricks?”–Publisher information.


The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

Just when twelve-year-old Summer thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong in a year of bad luck, an emergency takes her parents to Japan, leaving Summer to care for her little brother while helping her grandmother cook and do laundry for harvest workers.