WelCom April 2022
Parliament grounds were officially reopened to the public on 16 March, after being closed for two weeks while a clean-up occurred following the 23-day anti-mandate occupation.
Representatives of Parliament and Te Ātiawa Taranaki Whānui with the Kiingitanga and the local Wellington community gathered at Parliament for Te Whakapiki Mōuri – a ceremony to restore the mana of the land and continue the healing process following recent protest action.
The early-morning ceremony was jointly held by Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt Hon Trevor Mallard and Te Ātiawa Taranaki. About 200 people present included senior politicians, New Zealand Police and other affected agencies, local church leaders, school representatives, iwi, council staff and local business owners.
Taranaki Whānui Chair Kara Puketapu-Dentice said Whakapiki Mōuri is about awakening the lifeforce of the tupuna whenua (ancestral lands) of the iwi and healing the wounds of recent events.
‘This is a time for reflection and understanding. It’s also a time for healing and hope, not just here in Wellington, but in all our communities across the motu.’
Mr Puketapu-Dentice acknowledged the support of the Kiingitanga, which had brought a message of peace and kotahitanga (unity) to the proceedings.
Speaker Trevor Mallard said the ceremony was a welcome step towards reopening the grounds to the community and public. ‘The New Zealand Parliament will remain one of the few in the world where the grounds are open and accessible and allow people to engage closely with our democracy.’
He acknowledged the disruption the protests had caused and said he was proud Parliament grounds would remain open and accessible for Wellingtonians ‘to use this space as a thoroughfare, to sit down with their children, to eat their lunch, to submit their petitions and to stage their protests’.
‘The people of Wellington and those who live and work around Parliament have felt the impact of the occupation, and I hope this morning’s ceremony will bring us all a step closer to feeling more settled and welcomed back into the parliamentary grounds and surrounding areas.’
Cardinal John Dew said, ‘This was a wonderful ceremony to be part of. I very much appreciated the way to two neighbouring Cathedrals, local schools and colleges were acknowledged for the difficulties they experienced during the protests. There was a real sense of Parliament grounds being opened up and handed back to the public.’
A community event will be held once more restorative work on the grounds has taken place and it is safe to do so under the Covid-19 Protection Framework.