Forty children, two weeks, one bus. But this was no average school trip, this was a hikoi of remembrance.
The children followed in the footsteps of their great-great grandfathers who were transported from Parihaka pa in Taranaki to the South Island 130 years ago.
A film telling the story of the children's journey premiered in Wellington on Saturday at Te Papa's Soundings Theatre.
Children who feature in Tatarakihi - The Children of Parihaka were at the premiere with the woman who made the journey possible.
''I want to preserve history,'' Maata Wharehoka said.
Wellington War Memorial, Addington Jail and Ripapa Island in Lyttelton Harbour were key stations on the long bus journey to the caves at Andersons Bay in Dunedin where the Parihaka men were imprisoned.
The prisoners were forced to work on buildings, roads and embankments.
Mrs Wharehoka said the journey would keep the history of Parihaka alive.
The film weaves the observations of the children - through artwork, poetry and song - and the footage of their journey with archival photography to bring the history to life.
It tells the story of the ancestors who, with the leadership of Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi, used passive resistance to oppose the Government's confiscation of their lands.
Director Paora Joseph, whose ancestors were from Parihaka, went on the bus trip.
''I had always been interested in the story of Parihaka because it's so important to our history and as a nation, for Maori and Pakeha.
''It's a strong story about how we choose to remember the past, how we choose to honour our ancestors ... and their beliefs. That's what comes strongly across, of course the back story is historical, but really the essence of the story is very much about memory in a positive way.''
Joseph and executive producer Gaylene Preston have big plans for the film and want to show it to the world.
''The film is about how a community remembers,'' Preston said.
''This is the beginning of a journey.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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