Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Sack of Parihaka

"The ark by which we are to be saved today is stout-heartedness, and flight is death...Let us wait for the end; there is nothing else for us. Let us abide calmly upon the land...If any man thinks of his gun or his horse and goes to fetch it, he will die by it.”

- Te Whiti o Rongomai, 1st November 1881
Uneasy Times
  • Government: Parihaka divided in 3 – A seaward and inland village for Pākeha settlement and a strip for Māori in the middle.    
  • More than half of Parihaka would be taken.    
  • January 1881 Bryce resigned as Native Minister – angry that government wouldn’t invade Parihaka.
  • Scare campaign by media: Te Whiti fortifying Parihaka and preparing to invade New Plymouth.

The Trap
  • British uneasy about growing racial tensions.
  • Appointed Native friendly governor, Arthur Gordon.
  • In mid September Gordon sailed to Fiji. 
  • In his absence Premier Hall completed plans to invade Parihaka. 
  • Gordon heard about this and immediately began sailing back.
  • Two hours before he returned the government convened an urgent meeting.  
  • Gave Parihaka 14 days to surrender or suffer “the great evil which must fall on them.” 
  • The new Native Minister resigned and Bryce was sworn back in. 
  • Gordon arrived and was forced to comply with the advice of his ministers or resign.

Stand off
  • Bryce got the proclamation to Parihaka by October 22nd.
  • Major Charles Stapp, commander of the Taranaki volunteers called up 33 units of volunteers from Nelson to Thames.
  • By end October he had forces of 1674 soldiers, outnumbering Parihaka males four to one.
  • This all happened despite a lack of any violent threats from Parihaka.

“Place your trust in forbearance and peace ... let the booted feet come when they like, the land shall remain firm forever.”
- Te Whiti o Rongomai, 1st November 1881

  • 5am 5th November 1881 army converged on Parihaka and surrounded it. 
  • 7am advance party got to the main entrance – their path was blocked by lines of 200 children.
  • When they reached marae they found 2,500 Māori sitting peacefully. 
  • At 8am Bryce came, read the riot act and gave them 1 hour to comply. 
  • Shortly after this troops invaded the village.

The Sack of Parihaka
  • Te Whiti and Tohu were arrested.
  • Two days later houses were ransacked.
  • Women were raped and there was a great deal of looting and theft of taonga.
  • 15th November soldiers began destroying whare and crops hoping to starve the remainder into submission.
  • Te Whiti’s meeting house was destroyed.
  • A total of 1600 Māori were evicted.
  • Many evicted Māori faced starvation. Luckily Bryce got them all jobs...roadmaking and fencing for the sub-division of their land. – The ultimate humiliation.

“Images of a fuller picture escaped later … images of assaults; rape; looting; pillage; theft; the destruction of homes; the burning of crops; the forced relocation of 1556 persons without money, food, or shelter; the introduction of passes for Māori to facilitate the military’s control of movements in the area; and the suspension of trials and other legal safeguards when it appeared that lawful convictions might not be achieved.”

- from Chapter 8, Taranaki Report to the Waitangi Tribunal, 1996.


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