A movement to make 5 November a commemoration of Parihaka instead of Guy Fawkes gathered momentum on the Kapiti Coast last month with around 150 people talking peace at Whakarongotai Marae.
Organiser Ani Parata said she was amazed at the numbers who turned up after she put out an open invitation through her networks.
On 4 November at the appointed time she went out to the gate of the marae where about 20 people waited and they said they had someone to karanga, a woman from Taranaki as it turned out, so they came onto the marae ‘and they kept coming and comi ng until there were about 150 there’.
After a meal provided by local people, everyone went into the whare and talked to each other about peace.
‘We had many churches there and the quakers came—they gave up their day on Sunday to come and be with us—it wasn’t about being radical, it was just being people in this community on the Kapiti Coast. My intent was just to bring people together,’ Ani said.
In the following week, the children from Kurikina school came for their end of year function and Te Hihikura Hohaia and Ani talked to them each night and encouraged them to write their messages on the peace tree.
‘A different class came in each day so we ended up talking to 100 children about peace.’
Ani has been a voice for non-violence on the Kapiti Coast for the past 30 years but she decided that non-violence wasn’t achieving the desired result because it still contained the word ‘violence’.
‘So I thought I would try the other word instead and get people talking about peace.’
During a couple of years in Motueka staying at the Riverside Community set up by men who were conscientious objectors during the second world war, Ani discovered that many people did not know the history of Parihaka.
They did not know about this most significant resistance movement led by Te Whiti o Rongomai in the 1860s against government attempts to appropriate land. (For more on the Parihaka resistance, click here.)
‘This is awesome,’ they said. ‘It’s about passive resistance, it’s about peace, it’s about sustainability, it’s about everything that we believe in so why don’t we know the story.’
Ani is Ngati Awa from Waikanae but descended from Taranaki Ngati Awa. She says until she started to think in terms of peace rather than nonviolence she found the history of Parihaka too painful to read.
Te Whiti’s emblem
He Puawai au noo runga i te tikanga (I am the fruition of righteous procedure)
He rau rengarenga noo roto i te raukura (A herb of healing from the sacred emblem)
Ko taku raukura raa he manawanui ki ti aao (My sacred emblem is an assurance to the world)
Te Whiti o Rongomai
The three white feathers represent the Raukura, the sacred emblem. The raukura is a legacy left for all people by Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi of Parihaka. It conveys the following message and elements:
Kororia ki te Atua i runga rawa
Glory to God on High
(An acknowledgement of spirituality and spiritual forces)
Maungarongo ki runga i te whenua
Peace on Earth
(The importance of making peace within yourself and with others)
Whakaaro pai ki nga tangata katoa
Goodwill to all mankind
The necessity of maintaining goodwill despite conflict.
Wearing the Raukura, the sacred emblem, demonstrates a commitment to resolve conflict through peaceful means.