Ko Taranaki te maunga
Ko Waitotoroa te awa
Ko Parihaka te papakāinga
Ko Tohu Kākahi rāua ko Te Whiti o Rongomai ngā manu e rua
Welcome to our Parihaka website. In the 1800s, the Māori settlement of Parihaka, under the leadership of Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai, was a vibrant and sustainable community based on the principles of equality, collectivity, identity, goodwill and self-sufficiency. The people resisted the confiscation of lands using non-violence. Still, the village, with a population of several thousand people, was invaded by an army of colonial troops in November 1881 and occupied for several years. Hundreds were imprisoned in the South Island for acts of civil disobedience but given criminal sentences. Our community still exists today and with it are the traditions of our ancestors. Together, we are focused on re-building a sustainable and healthy community.
Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai
Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti o Rongmai were born during a time of major conflict and change. The norms of the past were forever altered through colonisation. One of the substantial impacts of colonisation was the introduction of firearms leading to repeated incursions by northern tribes into Taranaki. This was a time of great despair but also of bold leadership.
Intertribal war, while traumatic, later gave way to the hope and opportunities of economic and educational development. Tohu and Te Whiti in their youth were both directly involved in developments in these areas and were quickly recognised as having leadership qualities. This period was important because it helped establish a vision for Taranaki Māori to work together to make progress utilising their lands, resources and people. That vision was most evident in the communities of Waitara and Warea.
Establishment of Parihaka
The outbreak of war in Waitara, in 1860, signalled the strong determination of the Crown to secure land within the region. The emphasis given to enforcing the sale of land in Waitara and the subsequent attack on Taranaki Iwi in the south demonstrated the Crown’s commitment to preventing a Māori vision of development for economic and social self-determination.
The first colonial assault on Taranaki iwi lands at Waireka caused the deaths of key leaders including Paora Kukutai the rangatira of Warea. The people turned to the two prominent young leaders of that time, Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai, to guide them. From that point Tohu and Te Whiti provided leadership that sought solutions to the violence and devastation of the land wars. Their solutions included attempting to rebuild the former economic base the had been so prominent in Warea and they gave sanctuary to those fleeing the conflict.
Those communities who were a part of these developments during the early 1860s came under constant threat of attack from the Government. When the first assault came, just a week or more after war broke out in Waitara, Warea was completely destroyed by bomdardment from the sea followed by British troops on foot. The people from the community of Warea then formed peaceful settlements at Ngā Kumikumi, Kekeua and finally at Waikoukou, not far from Parihaka, were each subsequently attacked and destroyed by the military.
The people of these settlements were considered the enemy by the Government and were forced to escape and reestablish their settlements three times. The war gave the opportunity to break down any form of resistance to its plans. War essentially became the excuse the Crown needed to confiscate land and to assert its authority in the region.
After Waikoukou was attacked at the beginning of 1866, the community retreated further inland to establish Parihaka. It was there that they collectively gave full commitment to reject all involvement in violence and the Crown’s conflict. Those who came to live in the community were required to commit to a peaceful way of life.
It is said by some that this was influenced by principles of Te Paimarire as it was at this time that Te Ua Haumeene died having given his support to Tohu and Te Whiti to be part of the movement’s new leadership. In addition, a short time after establishing Parihaka as their settlement, Tāwhiao, the second Māori King, sent twelve supporters with the words “haere ki ngā hēpara ki tā rāua e mea nei” (go to the two shepherds to that which they instruct you).
People who came to Parihaka over the next 13 or more years encountered a sense of empowerment and collective understanding that had not been experienced by many during these difficult years. Those from other areas of conflict within wider Taranaki and from outside the region were drawn to a promise of sanctuary and a new way; a proactive and empowering response to the devastating challenges of the time.
As the community grew, Parihaka’s philosophy and practice began to be clearly articulated. At times it was framed in a selection of biblical references. For example, the people were considered the descendants of Joseph, son of Jacob, the Crown was at times aligned to the oppressive Babylonian empire and the community’s non-violence was associated with the image of a lamb in reference to the meek. It was also framed within a Māori worldview. For example, using references to atua Māori.
Tāwhiri-mātea (atua of wind) was considered the symbol of perseverance and living by principles, and Rongo (atua of peace and cultivated foods) was linked to gardening activities and working as a collective.
Tohu and Te Whiti did not attempt to construct a doctrine as the basis for a religion but rather accommodated all tribal backgrounds, and their associated identities and beliefs. People were required to commit to principles of attitude and behaviour that allowed a diverse range of peoples to co-exist in a very large, well-organised and self-sufficient community. Those involved in Parihaka through this period were inspired and maintained a strong commitment to Tohu and Te Whiti’s teachings and innovative way of life.
Tohu and Te Whiti advanced a principle-based approach to community development. Their innovative progressive leadership saw Parihaka with the second water pump system in Aotearoa – giving homes access to fresh running water. Parihaka can be considered to have been a fully functioning town with roles for bakers, seamstresses, blacksmiths, bankers and a council of management. They did not reject technology or innovative methods but believed the community needed to be confident and competent in its ability to sustain itself and support visitors.
Parihaka led the way nationally in development and was the first modern settlement in Aotearoa to have street lighting and by 1887, homes had been built in the Victorian style to symbolise self governance and authority, community wealth and well being , the centre from which they were trading nationally and internationally.
Legacy of Hope
The tikanga that was established by Tohu and Te Whiti at Parihaka can be characterised by five key elements which helped give rise to the notion of the Parihaka Movement:
- Equality: Previous status held by people of high birth or their positions of authority were put aside and all people were expected to actively participate in roles that would otherwise be previously considered menial or debasing their mana.
- Collectivity: All the benefits of activities within the settlement were contributed toward the betterment of the collective. While individuals may own possessions and accumulate resources, they were shared freely to ensure the collective goals were achieved.
- Identity: People in the community had a diverse range of whakapapa connections and points of identity. Parihaka did not dismiss their identity but subsumed individual identity within a collective identity of Parihaka. Iwi were able to build a marae for their people in the settlement but outward symbols of their identity such as carvings were actively discouraged. Iwi were also encouraged to form poi groups to perform waiata at events but most of the waiata were related directly to Parihaka, its principles and experiences. The waiata ‘E Rere Rā’ composed by Muaūpoko is an example.
- Goodwill: Compassion and non-violence were core concepts repeatedly reinforced in statements, practices and waiata. Eg Pōwhiri with the hongi before speeches reflects the acceptance of people to the community regardless of their intentions or past indiscretions.
- Self-sufficiency: Intentions in the past were for Māori in Taranaki to retain ownership and authority over their lands and resources. Parihaka held to this view and believed that over-reliance on resources from external sources placed communities at risk hence the innovation they put into place.
c/o 16 Rainsford Street, New Plymouth, 4310
249 Mid-Parihaka Rd, Parihaka, Taranaki