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Te roa o te whenua – a pursuit of justice

Ngā Toenga o ngā Iharaira me ngā Uri o Maungapōhatu Charitable Trust

Emotions are expected to run high today as over 300 people gather at Parliament for the second and third reading of Te Pire kia unuhia te hara kai runga i a Rua Kēnana, the Rua Kēnana Pardon bill.

Whānau travelled from across the motu to be at this significant event as it is officially one step closer to being made law.

Spokesperson for Ngā Toenga o Ngā Tamariki a Iharaira me Ngā Uri o Maungapōhatu Charitable Trust Nika Rua says it is a day that will be well remembered.

“This has been a long time coming, it has been a journey that spans over a century to have the name of Rua Kēnana cleared, so it is an emotional day for us to be present as it is one step closer to becoming law,” says Nika Rua.

“Kua tae ki te wā kia unuhia te hara kai runga i a Rua, kia whakahokia tōna mana me tōna ingoa rangatira ki a ia me ana uri.

“During our journey down to Pōneke we listened to waiata and stories about the impact that the invasion of 1916 at Maungapōhatu had on our people. Women were raped, some of our future leaders were killed and of course our tipuna was imprisoned and convicted of a crime he didn’t do.

“If I refer to one of the compositions of Mihikitekapua in her waiata ‘Te roa o te whenua’ i tīkina ai e ngā Iharaira tēnei waiata a Mihikitekapua hei whakaara i te wairua o ngā pēhitanga taumaha o ngā ture tinihanga a te karauna ki runga i te tinana, hinengaro, wairua, o te tipuna nei a te Rua me tana iwi Iharaira.

So, us being here is part of the vision that he had and is part of our aspirations to ensure we get justice for these wrongs.”

This is the fourth statutory pardon in Aotearoa to be given as part of the Crown-Māori relations portfolio and will clear the name of Rua Kēnana from a criminal conviction.

Tūhoe prophet, leader and pacifist Rua Kēnana was wrongfully arrested during a raid at Maungapōhatu on April 1916 when 70-armed policemen invaded Maungapōhatu. His son Toko Rua and Te Maipi Te Whiu were killed during gunfire exchange and other Māori and police were injured. Charges against him were later dismissed but he was imprisoned on an earlier charge of 'moral resistance'.

“The event at Maungapōhatu had long-lasting effects on our people and to the Iharaira faith,” says Nika Rua. “This bill is just one way that validates the treatment of Rua Kēnana and the damage of our reputation as a whānau and as a community. We suffered greatly because of the invasion and illegal capture of Rua.”

“We are a step closer to our goal of achieving our aspirations to vindicate our ancestor and restoring the mana of our people.”

On Saturday 21 December 2019 at Maungapōhatu marae, Ngā Toenga o ngā Iharaira me ngā Uri o Maungapōhatu Charitable Trust will host the Crown headed by the Governor General and iwi from across the motu as the Royal Assent is given to the bill for the first time in the history of legislation.


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