Tatarakihi: Children of Parihaka

TATARAKIHI: CHILDREN OF PARIHAKA   Documentary Dir/Screenplay/Prod: Paora Te Oti Takarangi Joseph co-Dir/Screenplay/Prod: Janine Martin EP: Gaylene Preston Editors: Simon Price, Tracey Ederton Publicist: Sue May Cast: Ngā Tātarakihi ināianei. Dur: 65mins

Skycity Theatre, Auckland 4 August 2012

“E kore a hau e mate ka ore [kāore] a hau e mate, ka mate ano te mate.” I shall not die; I shall not die. When death itself is dead I shall be alive. I shall live forever. 1868 Tītikowaru

These words by Ngāti Ruanui military genius Tītokowaru written almost 20 years before the 1881 invasion of Parihaka by government troops seem to have been a prophecy written for the people of Parihaka.

This is a brave film by Joseph and Martin as they seek to present a significant Taranaki historical injustice of the peaceful resistance at Parihaka and the decimation of the people in 1881 with just over one hour of footage.

Te Whiti ō Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi tired of war, built a successful and thriving community, including a flour mill and a bank at Parihaka in the late 1870’s. In protest at the NZ Company who were stealing their surrounding land, the Parihaka people began to pull out their survey pegs and then plough it, to show the land was occupied and in use.

In 1881 anxious to secure land for the hundreds that were arriving daily, the settler government sent in the troops to stop the ploughmen. Eeriely, this same action was repeated by the crown in 1978 by the Muldoon led government against the Ngāti Whatua ō Orakei and again at Pakaitore by the Bolger led government in 1995 against Whanganui iwi. Following the lessons learned at Parihaka, the leaders of these iwi adopted the same strategy. Te Whiti and Tohu instructed the people to face the imminent invasion with peaceful resistance.

First, the children were sent to line the road of the Pa to sing with flowers to welcome the troops, next the women were told to give out bread and finally Te Whiti and Tohu with all the men were waiting, with no weapons, to be arrested.  Parihaka was invaded, burned down, women and children were maimed, killed and hurt and all the men taken away to Dunedin and forced into slave labour.

Filmed by the children and the directors, In 2010, just on 150 years after the start of the Taranaki land invasion, the children of Parihaka leave their homes at the Pa and retrace the journey that their imprisoned ancestors were taken on.

From the first stop at Tūtahi the whare karakia (Church) sited on Turangaika, the last stand of Titokowaru, the children are told its significance as a place that the returning Parihaka prisoners built to commemorate the laying down of all arms, to bring peace, it is clear that this will be no ordinary bus trip.

The ensuing journey to Dunedin and eventual return home is full of sorrow. At each stop,  the children are taken into the caves that their great-great-great-grandfathers were herded into and lived in and they are shown the roads, houses, buildings that the prisoners were forced to build.

No-one likes to watch suffering, pain and anguish least of all for our children, and that’s why this film is an important one. We are shown the Parihaka elders teaching their children what has happened in their past in order for them to survive and to build a better future.

Every New Zealander should watch and know the story of Parihaka and finally we have a film that does just that. Following in the footsteps of Te Whiti and Tohu, the filmmakers have placed the children at the forefront of this story.

You would think it a film full of grief and despair, instead, Joseph /Martin and their collaboration with the people of Parihaka and Executive Producer fellow long time peace activist, Gaylene Preston have brought into 2012 a film of hope for peace made by the people of Parihaka for everyone.

The continuing existence of Parihaka in 2012 and the fact that the children in this film are living on their ancestral land,  is proof that we, this nation, is capable of surviving our violent past.

Regardless of if we are Māori or Pākeha, we all want peaceful lives for ourselves and our families. Ironically, just like the people of Parihaka have done in the last 150 years,  it requires struggle, tenacity and a will to resist violence of all forms to achieve this. To paraphrase Titokowaru

” Peace shall not die; Peace shall not die. When death itself is dead, Peace shall be alive. Peace shall live forever.”

He mihi aroha ki ā koutou katoa ngā mōrehu ō Parihaka me ō koutou tāmariki, mokopuna hei whaia te kaupapa ō ō koutou mātua tupuna Te Whiti rāua ko Tohu. Toitū te rangimarie mo ake tonu ake!

Sunday 4 August 2012 at Skycity Theatre Screening of Tatarakihi: Children of Parihaka

Back L-R Christina Asher, Rene Hawke, Sharon Hawke, Gaylene Preston, Whetu Fala

Front Heni Rangi

1 thought on “Tatarakihi: Children of Parihaka

  1. i just wanna give a big thanx to Te Kura Kauapa maori o Tamarongo for tracing the footsteps of our tupuna down at the south island, the cave, the prisons and ripapa island that was such a big journey:)

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