Te Pire Haeata ki Parihaka - Parihaka Reconciliation Bill - First Reading

Ngā manu e rua, Tohu Kākahi, Te Whiti o Rongomai, tēnā kōrua. Ki a koutou ngā uri o Parihaka o Taranaki iwi. Nau mai, haere mai, haere mai. Madam Speaker, it’s really special today to stand in support of Te Pire Haeata ki Parihaka, the Parihaka Reconciliation Bill.

 

 

I will apologise to the people of Parihaka who are here, while I do recount some of the important history that they have heard and know and live and breathed, but that still today, too many in our country are not aware of and are not familiar with and so I seek to put it on record in the House as part of my contribution.

On the 5th of November, 1881, 1600 soldiers invaded the peaceful settlement of Parihaka in central Taranaki. And this military might, this show of force, was met by tamariki carrying baskets of food, singing waiata. Several thousand other of the residents of Parihaka also remained peaceful on their papakainga, on their land. This military might, this proud, Crown, military might was welcomed to the community with open arms. But that welcome was not at all returned. Parihaka was looted and destroyed. Women and children were raped by the colonial soldiers and the colonial force. Men were shipped away without trial and detained. Many never returned and some remained buried in unmarked mass graves. These events of the 5th of November were just the climax of the Crown’s long campaign of stealing land, of many many years of trying to steal and take from Taranaki what belonged to the iwi of Taranaki. And it was met with many many years of non-violent resistance from the Parihaka community, so that by the 1860s, however, the entirety of Taranaki whenua had been confiscated by the Crown.

Today we stand in this very institution, in this House, the very Crown institution responsible for sanctioning this oppressive injustice and causing generations of harm. It is right that we stand in this House to start to try and make some of the things right. We use legislation from this very institution to sanction the terror that was rained. Thankfully, those bits of law have now been repealed.

I want to again acknowledge the people of Parihaka and Taranaki iwi who are here, who are privileging the presence of ours today and who have long deserved this day—for far too long have been waiting for it. Particularly, I'm pretty sure I spotted whaea Maata Wharehoka earlier today—I'll make sure I come and say hello—whose whare I have had the deep honour of resting and sleeping in, several nights. I want to acknowledge the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust and also Tina Mason, chair, and the trustees for this incredible piece of work that we are standing to honour today.

Today I'm proud to support Te Pire Haeata ki Parihaka / Parihaka Reconciliation Bill. Today we also honour He Puanga Haeata, which was the day of the reconciliation ceremony that took place last year, on 9 June. At this reconciliation ceremony, He Puanga Haeata, the Crown gave their apology for the wrongs caused, and that in itself is a precedent for around the world actually, where we start to own up to what has been done, to the wrong that has been created. On that day, He Puanga Haeata, a legacy statement was also proclaimed. This legacy statement summarises the origins of the peaceful settlement of Parihaka, the values, the history, and the hopes of Parihaka, for Parihaka people and the land. This bill that we are standing to support today records both the Crown apology and that legacy statement.

I was very honoured and warmed that Green MPs, my colleagues, Catherine Delahunty, our previous Tiriti o Waitangi spokesperson, Jan Logie, our current Tiriti spokesperson, and Denise Roche, our previous chair of our Māori caucus, were able to attend. I regret that at that time I caused some very nervous looks from some radiologists and some surgeons here in Wellington, when it appeared that I was going to threaten to get off the table after having my appendix removed, because I just wanted to go. It was actually very upsetting that I couldn't, but I'm glad it was a beautiful day. I'm just reminded right now how upset I was when I couldn't drag myself from the hospital to go. But I know that my colleagues and all of our parliamentary reps took my spirit and my aroha for that amazing day.

I want to acknowledge the Hon Chris Finlayson and Te Ururoa Flavell for this incredible work, and I want to take a particular moment to acknowledge the former chair of the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust, Puna Wano-Bryant, for pushing in particular the acknowledgments of the mamae, of the rapes, that happened to the women and the children by the soldiers. I did want to acknowledge the Hon Chris Finlayson for his readiness to not just accept it, but to put it in legislation, to put it in history. That's a really important step. Even now, he continues to acknowledge that and to make a point and that's really important, for all of us to move on. And it also was particularly important because it validated our oral histories, because that was the record by which this mamae, this injustice, was recorded.

This bill is an important precedent for creative reconciliation, and it gives us an insight into what can happen when we truly do work together in the spirit of good faith, in the spirit of full acknowledgment, and in the spirit of wondering how we can do better going forward. It's an important start, and the Crown now has the responsibility and the duty to uphold and demonstrate the good faith that was promised in the apology. Sorry is just the first essential step to making things right, and at all times we must remember the generosity of Parihaka and Taranaki iwi for accepting this reconciliation package.

The Parihaka story is one of the most inspiring stories of non-violent resistance and active mana motuhake for the whole world. It leaves with us some incredible values that, actually, the world and, absolutely, Aotearoa can take inspiration from. It provides us with a blueprint of how we need to reconcile not just Parihaka but our whole country—how we need to reconcile our history and our truth, how we live together, and our relationships with each other and to our land and to our mokopuna to come. This is the beauty of what the Parihaka people are generously, generously affording to all of us, and it's now our responsibility to make sure we uphold the dignity of Parihaka in the stories that we have to share.

I'm very proud that the Greens also stand in support of a commemoration day—and that has to be led by Parihaka—as part of our nation coming to terms with what has happened. This is a celebration. This is acknowledgment. This is a huge symbolic day for our country, and I'm really honoured to stand here, to speak on it, and I'm feeling a little bit better now. Even though I didn't get to the actual day, I'm feeling a little bit better that I got to stand up and speak. Kia ora tātou katoa.