Crown formalises apology for Parihaka invasion - 'Land was taken, people were taken captive'

The Crown has formalised its apology for the Government invasion of the pacifist settlement at Parihaka nearly 140 years ago - which included making the first acknowledgment of rape of women in the aftermath.  

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It happened nearly 140 years ago and was one of the most brutal episodes in New Zealand’s past. Source: 1 NEWS

Parliament had an emotive final sign off of the Te Pire Haeata ki Parihaka (Parihaka Reconciliation Bill) today.

Parihaka leader Ruakere Hond spoke of the 1600 Crown troops that attacked the peaceful settlement of Parihaka in 1881, controlling the small Taranaki settlement for four years. 

The bill apologises for responding to "peace with tyranny, to unity with division, and to autonomy with oppression". 

"On the 7th day of November every year, the whānau of Parihaka come together to remember those tūpuna (ancestors) who, in 1881, met the Crown’s soldiers with songs and gifts of food, and who honoured their commitment to peace while their homes and gardens were destroyed and leaders imprisoned," the bill reads. 

"The Crown now joins Parihaka in paying tribute to the men, women, and children who responded to the Crown’s tyranny with dignity, discipline and immense courage."

Māori Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis told Parliament, "land was taken, people were taken captive without charges". 

"It's incredible that such harm could be caused and people just really don't know what happened."

Former Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson described the taking of the "rich" lands of Taranaki as leaving Māori "impoverished, demoralised, and vilified". 

The reconciliation bill also includes a landmark admission - the first Crown acknowledgment for the rape of women. 

It apologised for the rapes "in the aftermath of the invasion, and for the immeasurable and enduring harm that this caused to the women of Parihaka, their families, and their descendants until the present day". 

Parihaka Papakainga Trust chair Puna Wano-Bryant said the acknowledgment was "necessary".

"Now it's our time to start loving ourselves again as Parihaka women in the way that our tūpuna (ancestors) intended. 

She said the implementation for NZ History to be taught in schools was an important next step.

"We want our children to not only talk about the facts of history but also about the pain and injury that has caused and that how we move forward as a nation together - Māori and Pākehā."

The reconciliation acknowledges past laws used against Parihaka, intending "to destroy Parihaka's resistance to the loss of their traditional lands" and included $9 million for the harm. 

"The Crown, empowered by those Acts, suspended the ordinary course of law and detained Parihaka protestors for long periods without trial," the Parihaka Reconciliation Bill reads.

"As a result, more than 400 protestors were held as political prisoners, and unwarranted hardships were inflicted on them, the broader Parihaka community, and their descendants to the present day."

It said the laws used against Parihaka by the Crown "breached natural justice, deprived the people of Parihaka of basic human rights, and enabled the Crown to complete its dispossession of the Parihaka community and other Taranaki Māori".