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Restoring the reputation of Rua Kēnana

Tūhoe prophet Rua Kēnana was officially pardoned and the Crown apologised during the final reading of Te Pire kia Unuhia te Hara kai Runga i a Rua Kēnana: Rua Kēnana Pardon Bill in Parliament today.

Rua Kēnana was wrongfully arrested when 70-armed police invaded Maungapōhatu in 1916. The fateful Sunday saw his son Toko Rua and nephew, Te Maipi Te Whiu killed during gunfire and both sides suffered injuries.

Kēnana was cleared of all charges but then imprisoned on an earlier charge of ‘moral resistance’ for the illicit sale of alcohol months earlier. Tellingly, the eight jurors involved in his 47-day trial objected to his harsh sentence - but were ignored.

His conviction had devastating effects on the descendants and followers of his Iharaira faith, who never fully recovered. The incident has long been a point of contention for ngā uri o Maungapōhatu and has led to a long and intergenerational journey for them to seek justice.

Minister for Māori Development, Nanaia Mahuta thanked ngā uri o Maungapōhatu for having the strength, mana and determination to to persist with a pardon, so the truth can be heard.

“Ngā uri o Maungapōhatu have been tenacious in their resolve over the past 103 years, through generations, to fight for vindication for their tupuna, the name of their whānau and faith. "

The Crown and Ngā Toenga o Ngā Tamariki a Iharaira me ngā Uri o Maungapōhatu Charitable Trust agreed to progress a statutory pardon in September 2017. The first reading of the Bill was in September.

Minister Mahuta apologised on behalf of the Government to the Trust for the lasting damage to the character, mana and reputation of Rua Kēnana and ngā uri o Maungapōhatu for the deep hurt, shame and stigma suffered from the invasion of their sacred maunga.

“I must acknowledge his people, including the many kaumātua who have passed away and are sadly not here to witness the pardon passed into law. I understand Lenny Mahurangi Te Kaawa is the only kaumātua left from the original group that put the claim to the tribunal.

“The Bill represents the courage, patience and the resilience of the whānau who have been committed to bring the issue to the Crown’s attention so they can start the healing process.

“The bloody invasion at Maungapōhatu has been described as the last shooting of the New Zealand land wars. My hope is for us to learn from historical events like this, acknowledge the pain that it caused generations and improve our understanding so we can move forward together as a country,” Minister Mahuta says.

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