He hōnore, he korōria
he maungārongo ki te whenua,
he whakaaro pai ki ngā tāngata katoa
E koro- Taranaki
pataka iringa korero
maunga toka tū
maunga ahuru mowai o te iwi
Tū mai, Tū mai Tū mai
Taranaki iwi, Taranaki tangata
He mihi maioha atu ki a koutou
Tēnā koutou Tēnā koutou tēnā tātou katoa
Thank you for your wonderful welcome.
I’ve wanted to come to Parihaka for a long time – and it’s so special that my very last visit to a marae as Governor-General, should be to this historic place.
When I have come onto a marae over the last five years, I have felt so aware of my responsibility as a kaitiaki of Te Tiriti o Waitangi – a role established by my earliest predecessor, Governor Hobson, when he signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi as representative of Queen Victoria with Māori Rangatira in 1840.
On each occasion I have also brought my experience and insights from my time as a Chief Crown negotiator for Treaty settlements.
So today, my korero begins with my expression of deep sorrow and regret for the violent invasion and loss suffered by your tīpuna as a result of the actions of the Crown.
The arrests and imprisonment of Parihaka ploughmen in 1879, the government-sanctioned invasion of this community in 1881, and the detention of Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi are some of the most shameful events in our history.
These are wrongs that cannot, and must not, be forgotten.
For too long they were denied, because, as we know, history is written by the victors.
In 1881, Pākeha justifications for the assault talked of ‘fanaticism’, ‘disaffection’, ‘rebellion’ and ‘native disturbance’.
However, as they say, truth will out, eventually.
Over the years, the official story was challenged and overturned, and it now acknowledges that in 1881 Parihaka was a peaceful, prosperous and orderly settlement, a sanctuary for Taranaki iwi and for dispossessed iwi from other regions in Aotearoa.
Public awareness of the Parihaka story has expanded to a point where it has earned a special place in the cultural imagination of many New Zealanders.
Books, films, songs, artworks and festivals have decried the illegal detentions, the wilful destruction of houses and crops, and the looting of taonga by members of the armed constabulary.
At the same time, the Parihaka philosophy of peaceful resistance, dialogue and self-determination has inspired generations of New Zealanders, confirming Te Whiti’s prophetic words:
I stand for peace. Though the lions rage, still I am for peace.
Though I be killed, I yet shall live; though dead, I shall live in peace which will be the accomplishment of my aim.
The future is mine, and little children, when asked hereafter as to the author of peace, shall say ‘Te Whiti’ and I will bless them.
One of the descendants of the Taranaki ploughmen who were sent to Dunedin as prisoners in 1879, was my predecessor, our 15th Governor-General, Sir Paul Reeves.
Sir Paul was proud of his Te Atiawa whakapapa, and throughout his life, he epitomised the Parihaka doctrine of peace and dialogue.
When he died, his family chose to reflect his commitment to those values by having raukura inscribed on his gravestone.
Having participated in Te Atiawa Treaty negotiations, Sir Paul was clear-eyed about how he saw a future path for iwi Māori in Aotearoa.
He advocated for greater tino rangatiratanga, the self-determination pursued by Te Whiti and Tohu here at Parihaka;
For a more collaborative approach to common issues, where Treaty partners could make decisions from a position of relative parity;
He sought new beginnings and flexibility in the Treaty relationship and a greater sense of mutual respect and dialogue.
I feel sure that he would be delighted and proud to see how far this community has come on that journey, establishing new relationships with the Crown and embarking on an ambitious new chapter in the Parihaka story.
In coming here today, I recall how in December 2019, I travelled to Maungapōhatu to sign a Bill that both pardoned Rua Kenana and acknowledged the wrongs committed by the Crown.
The Bill referred to the 1916 police operation mounted against Rua’s community, during which one of Rua’s sons was killed, and Rua and others were arrested and imprisoned.
Next year, students all over New Zealand will learn that story – as well as the story of Parihaka – when New Zealand history becomes part of the school curriculum.
Having learnt about Te Tiriti, they will see how the expression of tino rangatiratanga in Māori communities was interpreted as a threat to the Crown.
They will learn about the legislation that sanctioned wrongful detention and imprisonment of your tīpuna, and the devastating impact it had on the wellbeing of communities like yours.
We all live with that history. It has brought us to where we are today. New Zealanders must learn about our our past before we can have informed conversations about the present and make better decisions for the future.
Haere whakamua, titiro whakamuri
Let us walk into the future with our eyes open to the past.
The legacy of Te Whiti, Tohu and your tīpuna will be your guide for the future.
Be assured that other New Zealanders will be inspired by the moral authority of this place and its people, whatever their background, and we can all work for a similar commitment to follow the path of peace, tolerance and inclusion.
It is only by having such strong connections with each other that we can have strong communities across the motu, equipped to deal with the significant challenges of our times.
Nāreira, tēnā koutou tēnā koutou, kia ora koutou kātoa.