“Indeed the Pākehā did have some useful technology but not the kindness of heart to see that Māori also possessed much great technology which if Pākehā were prepared to adopt would lead to stability and peace and the building of a great new society”. – Te Whiti, 1882
Today on 5th November 1881, the New Zealand government sent in 1600 troops into the small Taranaki village of Parihaka, in which the troops were greeted with singing children in the early hours of the morning. The Riot Act was proclaimed and the non-violent leaders of the non-violent village, Te Whiti and Tohu, were led away; the rest of the village was terrorized by government troops – women were raped; stock were slaughtered; people were forcibly dispersed to other areas; and the land was ‘confiscated’ all in the name of colonial greed and progress. November 5th wasn’t an isolated event; rather it lay amongst a racist period of government treatment towards Taranaki (as well as other areas). Today I don’t celebrate the ‘adopted’ New Zealand celebration of Guy Fawkes, today I remember the peaceful character of my Tūpuna and their revolutionary lifestyle of peaceful protest for a better New Zealand. Martin Luther King Jr. once talked about a ‘double victory’ – in that meeting abuse with peaceful protest, possibly one day those that suffer would win both their freedom as well as brotherhood/sisterhood with their former oppressors – kind of like if a community stands up for social justice in a just way, hopefully others would see-learn-replicate to further the aroma of equality and social justice; hopefully.
In the context of Aotearoa New Zealand, race relations have come a long way since 1881 but systemic and social injustices are still overtly present. It’s hard to protest peacefully when you have this zeal for revolution within you, but as I reflect on the actions of Te Whiti and Tohu, my hope for that double victory calms my spirit and affirms that one day New Zealand will not only be more aware of events like Parihaka 1881 but also embrace the peaceful brotherhood/sisterhood that the Tūpuna incarnated.