Parihaka and Regions of Radness – by Lani Evans
By Lani Evans
The ReGeneration roadtrip crew have just wrapped up a couple of awesome weeks on the West Coast of the North Island, visiting the regions of Taranaki and the Waikato. As always, the experiences that we had as individuals, and as a crew were numerous and magnificent, but there’s been two stand out features for me: our stay at Parihaka and our interview with Heidi Mardon.
The story of Parihaka is long and complex, but my understanding is that the village, led by Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, was a haven for non-violent resistance against the Colonial Government in the late 1800’s.
The Parihaka community challenged the government on their unjust land acquisitions and their violent response to Maori activism.
On the 5th of November 1881, Parihaka was invaded by 1500 armed men. The soldiers looted and destroyed buildings and crops, arrested villagers and dispersed the community. The repercussions of those events are still very present today.
Along with a movement for non-violent resistance, one of the legacies of Te Whiti and Tohu is the eighteenth. Every month, on the 18th Te Whiti and Tohu held a forum, bringing together Maori and Pakeha leaders to discuss the issues and look for solutions. This tradition continues in the community today and we were lucky enough to be invited to the gathering, to be welcomed onto the marae, to listen to korero and to learn a little more about the history of the place, it’s people and their vision for the future.
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The experience made me think about what it means to be Pakeha and also what it means to think long term – not just the next five years, but the next five generations. This sort of intergenerational thinking has been woven throughout this trip; all these people, all over Aotearoa thinking about how we move beyond now and take on a role as kaitiaki of this whenua, looking after it and improving it for the generations to come.
These thoughts were echoed by Rick Thorpe, an organic farmer and community activist based in Whaingaroa. We spent a peaceful morning harvesting pumpkin seeds with Rick on the farm he shares with his partner Liz and a bunch of woofers and friends. Ricks philosophy is simple and good so please check out this weeks on film on this charming organic farmer from Whaingaroa.