As part of Hui 2017, delegates watched the documentary film Tatarakihi—Children of Parihaka and were then invited to Parihaka by Te Ātiawa iwi. Here are personal reflections of the experience from three members of our Baptist family.
Pastor, Māngere Baptist Church
Although I knew about Parihaka, I hadn’t yet been really moved by it. But something happened to me as we processed onto the papa kāinga (village). I think it was as I began recognising the buildings from the movie we watched that morning; it was as if God were saying that this was to be a very, very special place for me, and maybe for us all.
As the kōrero unfolded I went on a journey. First my heart wept, “What an injustice!” Next it mourned, “What a tragedy!” But finally it sung, “What an inspiration!” I realised that Parihaka is not just about the past; it’s about the future. It’s not just a place; it’s an idea. It’s a vision for radical peacemaking with its values of non-violence, equality, collectivity, unity in diversity, goodwill and self-sufficiency. Parihaka could provide a vision for our country if we let it.
The burning whakaaro (thought) in my heart as we left was this: what could the Baptist movement do together to support this vision, and to partner in a prophetic voice to the motu (country/island)? And with that, what possibilities are there to be an encouragement to faith in Jesus Christ at Parihaka? Through service and partnership come love and respect, and through love and respect come opportunities for growth for all.
In my view the story of Parihaka contains our nation’s greatest inspiration, greater than splitting the atom, winning the rugby, and even greater than ‘knocking off’ Everest. And who is it that carries this greatest of honours? Te iwi Māori. Ko tēnei te mihi ki a koutou e te iwi taketake.
Adjunct Lecturer, Te Ao Māori, Carey Baptist College
Te Ātiawa are the people. Taranaki the mountain, resolute in the background, listening and watching our every move. The karanga of Parihaka welcomed us. Four hundred-odd members of the Baptist church community of Aotearoa gathered at the gateway of the marae. One in body but disparate in our thoughts about the experience awaiting us. Responding to the call we moved forward together into Parihaka.
Ngātiwhatua, Te Rarawa and Tainui are my people and Tokatoka, Karioi my mountains. As I stood to call back to Parihaka, my tūpuna stood beside me. Their presence and the significance of the occasion overwhelmed me and I wept. Parihaka calls. Welcome! Welcome! People of the faith! Ka nuku nuku. Ka neke neke. There is a shifting; there is a moving. So started my experience of Parihaka as a Māori and as a Christian. Annexperience of empathy and of hope.
My tūpuna Ngātiwhātua, my tūpuna Te Rarawa and Tainui, all experienced land confiscations, a banished language, resource subjugation, and generational brokenness. All resisted colonial oppression. Only Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi led a Māori movement of non-violent resistance inspired by Christian scriptures, from 1879 to 1881—before Mahatma Gandhi in 1906. Who knew we had our own Gandhi?
At Parihaka I saw and heard of the many injustices, while walking the remnants of land alongside fellow believers. I observed those around me, predominantly Pākeha representing most Baptist churches in Aotearoa, intently listening and asking questions. I studied the faces of our hosts, the children and kuia of Parihaka, intently eager to share. Herein lay the foundation for the hope I was feeling. My hope is that the church reflects on the voices of Parihaka. My hope is that the church be the voice of the hitherto voiceless. My hope is that the church called to love, loves. Taranaki the mountain, listening and watching our every move. Ka nuku nuku. Ka neke neke.
Roi Nu Maran
Pastoral Leadership graduate, Carey Baptist College
It was an honour and privilege to visit Parihaka as part of the Hui last year. One of the first things I want to acknowledge and honour is the strong and warm community that the people of Parihaka have. When we arrived at Parihaka they welcomed us in and invited us all to be a part of their story. That moment I felt so welcomed and connected into their community. I also developed a sense of belonging to their land.
Another thing I would like to acknowledge is the way the people of Parihaka opened their story to us. This was an overwhelming and moving experience. Even though they had lost many of their loved ones in the past and seen their homes, buildings and land violated, they shared their story with us. We went up their hills, saw the marae and graves, and stood outside an old building where the people of Parihaka had tried to negotiate with the New Zealand Government.
One thing that spoke to me especially was Parihaka’s alternative approach to violence. They tried to resolve their conflict through negotiation and peaceful resistance.
We can learn from this. Even though we may have different languages, and are different in background and culture, we are all the family of God. Therefore we need to help each other and stand in solidarity with communities like this, who are asking for justice in relation to their claims regarding their land, language and the retention of cultural practices.
Overall, the story of Parihaka is an important part of our own New Zealand history, and we can draw encouragement from their example in our own efforts to bring about justice and reconciliation in Aotearoa New Zealand today.