I welcome the efforts to create some significant opportunities for Parihaka. Its story is indelibly one of the most significant in New Zealand’s history of conflict. Under the previous National-led Government the Hon Chris Finlayson commenced an initiative that would bring apology and reconciliation from the Crown with a $9 million investment to rebuild the infrastructure of the Parihaka settlement. The South Taranaki District Council and the New Plymouth District Council partnered in this.
The $14 million dollar Provincial Growth Fund investment announced this week is adding to this, and is to provide a new visitor centre and other new buildings to assist in the vision of Parihaka being recognised as a significant place in New Zealand’s history, and as a place of learning.
As the local MP for the electorate that Parihaka sits in, and as someone who grew up in South Taranaki with only limited knowledge of the terrible events of November 5 1881, it is gratifying to see history being redressed where Parihaka is recognised and supported.
Parihaka, so important in New Zealand's history, was founded by two Māori statesmen and leaders, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi, who instead of “doing unto others before they do to you” were “doing unto others as they would have them do to them” which is essentially turning the other cheek and responding to aggression with peaceful resistance. They were men of faith and vision for their people, and men who were prepared to stand tall to support their people by saying no to the aggression and confiscation that confronted them.
When I read the opening remarks in the apology that the Crown put into the Parihaka legislation last October, it reminded me that we need to understand that the House of Parliament legislated against the people of Parihaka, back in the 1880’s. The law did not work to help; it worked to harm. So when the Parihaka Reconciliation Bill was passed, the House of Parliament, the people of New Zealand represented by Members of Parliament, reversed the injury history had created. It moved to ensure that the Government stood by the rule of law and the moral purpose of the law, to protect its citizens, and is now working to see restitution and reconciliation in our nation.