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Powerfully Evocative Public Events In Whakatū Nelson To Commemorate Parihaka Day On November 5th

This November 5th, Parihaka Day will be commemorated in Whakatū Nelson with a 5.30am Dawn Blessing at Anzac Park, and powerfully evocative theatre by Te Oro Haa at the Theatre Royal in the evening. Everyone is welcome to attend both events.

The dawn service will include an opportunity for attendees to offer karakia, prayers, waiata or hymns for peace, if they so wish.

The 7pm performance on Thursday 5th November is supported by Nelson City Council’s Heritage Festival. Te Oro Haa is a gathering of acclaimed performers who weave waiata, poi, te reo Māori and ancient Māori sounds, through spoken word written by Donna McLeod, a descendant of Parihaka.

Parihaka settlement, founded in the 1860s under the leadership of Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti-O-Rongomai, gave hospitality and shelter to people from many different tribal affiliations including some pākehā. On November 5th 1881, nearly 2000 soldiers invaded the thriving, peaceful settlement at the foot of Taranaki mountain. Those troops included 200 men of the Nelson Militia under the leadership of Major Pitt. The soldiers were met by children singing and playing games, and were offered freshly baked bread.

Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti-O-Rongomai were among those taken prisoner on November 5th. Between 1878 and 1898, five hundred men were evicted and many were exiled to the South Island. As part of their exile, Tohu and Te Whiti were kept under house arrest for 7 months in Whakatū Nelson. After two years, some prisoners were allowed to return but some would never come back to Parihaka. Descendants now living in our region were among those at the government reconciliation in 2017 when a crown delegation formally apologised for the injustices that took place and asked for forgiveness.

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“It’s not just my history. It’s the history of this country. How do we go forward with a shared story like that?” asks writer Donna McLeod. “How did my whānau bear seeing a canon pointing at their children? Knowing that twelve year olds like my grandfather needed to stand peacefully against armed troops? They must have had faith and hope for the future.”

Rex Hunt from Whakatū Parihaka Peace Network Connection says, “On Parihaka Day we commemorate the courage of the Parihaka leaders and their people - how they created a place of refuge for all iwi, a self-sustaining community that resisted land confiscation peacefully”.

Whakatū Parihaka Peace Network Connection have organised these events because, as fellow member Veronica Christie says, “The non violent resistant response is a vital and pivotal part of our history. This was pre-Gandhi. Parihaka has given us a unique legacy. It can guide us all to bring peace into our relationships as families, as communities and as a nation.”

$10 tickets for the 7pm performance at the Theatre Royal on Thursday 5th November can be booked via www.theatreroyalnelson.co.nz, by phoning 03 5483840 or through Eventfinda. Everyone is invited to stay for a question and answer session afterwards with opportunity for audience feedback.

Anyone wanting to learn more about the Whakatū Parihaka Peace Network Connection is encouraged to contact Keith Christie on 0212051331 or email Whakatu.Parihaka@gmail.com .

“ Kia tau te rangimarie.”

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