The story of Parihaka and its non-violent opposition to injustice should be (more) widely known. Parihaka was invaded by Pakeha on 5 November 1881. Surprisingly, or possibly not, the peaceful resistance of pacifist-because-of-Jesus Maori prophet, Te Whiti (which inspired Mahatma Gandhi) may be less known (even) here in New Zealand than might be expected. One wonders, with the announcement that New Zealander pupils will be required to study NZ history by 2022, whether Parihaka will be one of the required stories… [a quick, non-scientific check of some Kiwi teenagers – the story of Parihaka is known by maybe 1%].

For some reason – explain it to me someone! – Te Whiti o Rongomai is celebrated in the NZ Anglican calendar on November 6. I cannot explain why. He died November 18, 1907 (making November 18 an option). But Parihaka was invaded on November 5 (a blank day in the calendar)!

Guy Fawkes, while still celebrated with fireworks around New Zealand, may not have as strong relevance in our context as Parihaka.

As Pakeha advanced on Parihaka, the Māori community baked 500 loaves of bread. The invaders were greeted with waiata (singing) and dancing and being handed bread to eat. The response of the invaders was to destroy the settlement, many women and children were raped, and the men were taken away down south and imprisoned for two years under inhumane circumstances. Many never returned.

Many now bake bread and share it today in memory of these events and the message of peace that goes back through Parihaka to Jesus.

My friend my friend
I hate to see you suffer
Events conspire to bring us to our knees
My friend my friend
You’ve taken this the wrong way
Rise up defend yourself never give in

Look to the sky the spirit of Te Whiti
The endless tide is murmuring his name
I know Te Whiti will never be defeated
And even at the darkest hour
His presence will remain

I’ll sing for you a song of Parihaka

Te Whiti he used the language of the spirit
Then stood accused a madman and his dream
He saw the train go roaring thru the tunnel
He heard the voice travel on the magic wire
But Te Whiti loved the silence of the river
He watched the dog piss on the cannon’s wheel

I know Te Whiti will never be defeated
And even at the darkest hour
His presence will remain
I’ll sing for you a song of Parihaka

One day you’ll know the truth
They can’t pull out the roots
Come and take me home
To weep for my lost brother

They gather still the clouds of Taranaki
His children’s children wearing the white plume
So take me for the sins of these sad islands
The wave still breaks on the rock of Rouhotu

And when you taste the salt that’s on your pudding
And when you taste the sugar in your soup
Think of Te Whiti He’ll never be defeated
Even at the darkest hour
His presence will remain

I’ll sing for you the song of Parihaka
Come to Parihaka
Weep for my lost brother
The spirit of nonviolence
Has come to fill the silence
Come to Parihaka

Lyrics Tim Finn
The Herbs with Tim Finn singing

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