Apology and settlement for Parihaka

After the Parihaka Papakainga Trust agreed to a reconciliation package the Government will apologise for atrocities including the rape of women during the sacking of Parihaka.

This will be signed at a ceremony on 9 June, over 130 years later.

RNZ: Govt to apologise for Parihaka atrocities

The Crown is to formally apologise for atrocities during the sacking of the pacifist settlement at Parihaka in Taranaki in 1881.

The government has also offered to acknowledge the rape of women at Parihaka by Crown troops after they invaded on 5 November 1881.

The package includes $9 million, which the trust initially rejected as being not enough.

It also includes help in establishing a governance structure, the creation of an intellectual property framework and deals for services from 10 Crown agencies and three local councils.

In the 1870s, under the leadership of Te Whiti-o-Rongomai III and Tohu Kākahi, Parihaka became a centre of non-violent resistance to land confiscation.

In 1880 the government began building roads through land it had confiscated, and the West Coast Commission recommended creating reserves for the Parihaka people.

People of Parihaka were imprisoned if they rebuilt fences in the areas, but were released in early 1881.

About 1600 government troops invaded the settlement on 5 November 1881, and the village was destroyed while several thousand Māori sat quietly.

Its leaders were arrested and detained without trial for 16 months.

New Zealand History: Occupation of pacifist settlement at Parihaka

Retouched photograph showing a comet over Mt Egmont/Taranaki and Parihaka village

About 1600 government troops invaded the western Taranaki settlement of Parihaka, which had come to symbolise peaceful resistance to the confiscation of Māori land.

Founded in the mid-1860s, Parihaka was soon attracting dispossessed and disillusioned Māori from around the country. Its main leaders were Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi, both of the Taranaki and Te Ātiawa iwi.

When in May 1879 the colonial government moved to occupy fertile land in the Waimate Plains that had in theory been confiscated in the 1860s, Te Whiti and Tohu developed tactics of non-violent resistance.

Ploughmen from Parihaka fanned out across Taranaki to assert continuing Māori ownership of the land. The government responded with laws targeting the Parihaka protesters and imprisoned several hundred ploughmen without trial.

Following an election in September 1879, the new government announced an enquiry into the confiscations while sending the ploughmen to South Island gaols. In 1880 the West Coast Commission recommended creating reserves for the Parihaka people. Meanwhile, the government began constructing roads through cultivated land. Men from Parihaka who rebuilt their fences soon joined the ploughmen in detention.

The prisoners were released in early 1881. After ploughing resumed in July, Sir John Hall’s government decided to act decisively while Governor Sir Arthur Gordon was out of the colony. A proclamation on 19 October gave the ‘Parihaka natives’ 14 days to accept the reserves offered or face the consequences.

Armed Constabulary units at Parihaka, 1881
(Alexander Turnbull Library, PA1-q-183-19)

On 5 November, 1600 volunteer and Armed Constabulary troops marched on Parihaka. Several thousand Māori sat quietly on the marae as singing children greeted the force led by Native Minister John Bryce. The Whanganui farmer had fought in the campaign against Tītokowaru (see 9 June) and viewed Parihaka as a ‘headquarters of fanaticism and disaffection’. Bryce ordered the arrest of Parihaka’s leaders, the destruction of much of the village and the dispersal of most of its inhabitants.


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  1. And then what happened? About the “rapes” ? They were British soldiers. Did the UK agree to the admission of guilt? What compensation was paid by the UK Government? What was the historical evidence used during the consideration of the native claims? Was the UK Government allowed to address the claims of illegal conduct? Why is it that the present taxpayers are funding redress for something they were never involved in?
    I have serious reservations about these decisions that are announced without warning. Who represented the interests of the non Maori New Zealanders? This is appeasement not justice.

    • Be careful BJ you will summon Parti to give a strongly worded lecture on the evils of colonialism….

      • See below too … although it’s only “colonialism” by nature …


        On 5 November 1881 the true motives of pakeha settler governments in New Zealand were laid bare for all to see … The oppressor acting-out blatantly and unmitigated …

        • Oh please – grow up Parti. Everything is racism when you look hard enough and ascribe you viewpoint of everything is racism to it….

          • What would you call it then dave1924?

            Since I see you’re offering nothing to the conversation except badgering me … Why don’t you rise above my childishness and offer some actual comment and opinion about the subject?

            Maybe defend BJ’s assertion that the militia who invaded Parihaka 5 November 1881 were British troops …

            Go on … be a sport … call it something? Name it something other than an expression of racism? An unfortunate but benign “colonial misunderstanding” perhaps?

            Here, I’ll start off for you … Parihaka was __________________

            • Unfortunate.

              It was colonism Parti. What happen at Parihaka was not unusual for the time it took place.

              Kind of like what happen to the Chatham Island Moriori when they, true to their pacifist tradition, welcomed Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama to the islands only to be butchered.

              Were Mutunga and Tama racist? Or colonial Parti? Or just acting according to there tikanga?

              Applying your Marxist Dialetic analysis to a situation and projecting “racism”, in the 21st Left wing definition of the word which carries layers of meaning beyond the standard dictionary definition, doesn’t make you right.

              Colonisation is a fraught business – often things happen that are unpleasant. Judged by todays liberal standards they are wrong, but at the time not…

              The 1880’s are a very long time ago – and I personally don’t judge those involved one way or the other. particularly against the backdrop of the first half of the 1800’s here in NZ where all sorts of atrocities were perpetrated by people of all origins – with some tribes native to Wellington mysteriously “disappearing” and Taranaki tribes “mysteriously” appearing in Wellington in the 1820’s/1830’s….

    • PDB

       /  25th May 2017

      The rapes were never proven and historical evidence was conflicting on the subject – the Waitangi Tribunal however decided to accept the rapes as fact.

      • PDB

         /  25th May 2017

        There are some accounts like this though: “Women and girls were raped, leading to an outbreak of syphilis in their community.”

      • kerri rimene

         /  30th May 2017

        my great grandmother was the result of that proof she had blue eyes get your facts right aint hard to find, bleh

        • historyfan

           /  12th June 2017

          To Kerry: If your great-grandmother had blue eyes it only means that neither of her parents was a full-blooded Maori. Either they were 2 part-Maori, or a part-Maori and a European, or 2 Europeans. The gene for blue eyes is recessive. A full-blooded Maori has only genes for brown eyes so his/her children must have brown eyes, even if the other parent has blue eyes. Equating blue eyes with rape is misleading. Was your great-grandmother born about nine months after the beginning of November 1881?

    • Gezza

       /  25th May 2017

      An utterly disgraceful blot on our colonial history, long overdue for redress.

    • @ BJ – “They were British soldiers.”

      Wrong. They were “1600 volunteer and Armed Constabulary troops”.



      ” … New Zealand should dispense with the Imperial troops for which they were paying an annual capitation of £40. Reliance would instead be placed on local forces and on Maori auxiliaries. This policy was gradually accepted by the Government, though not without serious difficulties with the Colonial Office. But by 1870 the last British regiment had left New Zealand.”

      Consequently almost every other statement you make is incorrect BJ. The UK government had and has litte and nothing to do with it.

      The rapes will always be a matter of dispute. Maybe it’s a question of what is the likelihood of rapes being encouraged, sanctioned or ignored? Is rape used as a “weapon of war” today?

      One might perhaps look to the character of the invading forces’ leader, John Bryce, who fought so hard in the Taranaki wars against Titokowaru … including at Handley’s Woolshed … where, from his position mounted on horseback, using his sabre on an unarmed boy or youth, he (Bryce) “cleaved his [the boy’s] head to the shoulder” …

      “Who represented the interests of the non-Maori New Zealanders?”

      The government did.

      Armed Constabulary and their later manifestations, the Police and Armed Forces, have been similarly used by ‘Settler’, Farmer-Employer-led, ‘Power & Wealth’, latterly National governments, in Waihi against miners pre-WW1, and notably during the 151 day 1951 ‘Waterfront’ dispute –

      “The government issued drastic emergency regulations, giving it the power to seize union funds, use the armed forces to replace strikers, and prohibit strike meetings or publications. Supporters of the wharfies were even forbidden to write favourably about the strike or give food to strikers’ children …

      Labour MP Mabel Howard called the dispute ‘a war on women’, because the wives of strikers had to survive with no income, and it was illegal for anyone to help them. The regulations applied to children too. In Wellington’s Clifton Terrace primary school, strikers’ children were separated from other pupils during playtime in case they illegally shared their lunches.”

      Another equally proud moment for NZ’s Right …

      • Brown

         /  26th May 2017

        Whatever. There are more versions of what happened than sequels to Star Wars. The Waitangi Tribunal will accept anything with a pot of grievance at the end of it and the truth is long buried.

        • Brown, you must mean the ‘headquarters of fanaticism and disaffection’ version?

          Or perhaps you mean “the destruction of much of the village and the dispersal of most of its inhabitants” version along with “imprisonment without trial”?

          What else could the poor pakeha do!?

          The truth isn’t “long buried” in you and your kind: The truth is long moribund.

  2. historyfan

     /  12th June 2017

    Where is the evidence of rape? Eyewitness accounts on Paperspast do not mention rape. One of the comments here says there was an outbreak of syphillis and blames that on rape, but other Maori communities had syphillis too. If anyone has a reputable source I’d like to read it please.


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