Government and Parihaka reconciled

The government again apologised to the Maori of Parihaka for the violent attack on the community 136 years ago. This time, the apology was from The Rt Honorable Chris Finlayson, who is Attorney-General. He also signed a deed of reconciliation between the government and the community.

Here is part of his speech: I now want to outline what happened at Parihaka. I do this because while these events are among the most shameful in the history of this country, they are even today not known or understood. In part, this is because the history of Parihaka is an uncomfortable one.

He went on to describe what happened in 1881 and the years before that.

It has taken 3 years for this ceremony of reconciliation to happen. Alongside the Parihaka iwi were descendants of the pakeha landowners and police who were responsible for the attack on the community. There was also a descendant of William Rolleston, the governor who signed the order to attack the community. Also present were the great great granddaughters of the Prime Minister at the time, John Hall. They came to show their sadness at what their ancestors had done.

Te Whiti has been compared with Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr yet most New Zealanders have never heard of him. These famous leaders believed in non-violent resistance but he was arrested and sent to jail without a trial. The land was taken from the iwi, their houses burnt, their animals killed.

Now Parihaka will be written in the history books and children will learn about this shameful part of our history. The government has given the community $9m for development and to build a centre for telling the history.


• reconcile (v,) reconciliation (adj, n) – to make peace, to build a close relationship and settle the past
• Attorney-General – main law officer to the government, in charge of keeping our laws
• a deed (n) – a legal agreement
• shameful (adj) – something we feel ashamed of
• descendant – grandchild, great grandchild etc
• ancestor – grandparent, great grandparent etc
• resistance – refusing to give in

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