Parihaka spirit present at protest
Members of Te Atiawa hapu channelled the actions of their forebears in a peaceful protest against the signing off on their iwi's Treaty settlement.
The atmosphere was amicable, with reggae music and the smell of sausages cooking filling central Waitara on Saturday, where hapu members of all ages ploughed a section of land in an imitation of the Parihaka campaign of the late 1880s.
David (Rawhiri) Doorbar, said the three hapu Otaraua, Manukorihi and Ngati Tawhirikura had been excluded from participating in the Te Atiawa Settlement, which was signed off earlier this month.
"We didn't go into the claims process 15-20 odd years ago thinking we'd get everything we want.
"But the last thing we expected was to be cut out altogether in order for a few to go and make money for the Waitara lands.
"They take the cash and we're left with the bag, but that bag's full of all kinds of hurt."
To demonstrate their stance they had adopted the method of ploughing used by Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, leaders of the Parihaka movement of nonviolent resistance to the confiscation of Maori land in the late 1880s.
"We're not in any danger of being shot, but the message is the same."
Doorbar said it was a positive way to get people involved with the issues that were confronting the hapu, instead of doing protest marches and making lots of noise.
"We are the descendants of those who fought in the war, and we've been ignored and left out.
"We wanted to be a part of the settlement that reflects our future aspirations, and one of those was to have whenua (land) returned."
He said by taking the $87 million settlement, the iwi authority had undermined the original stance of the people who wanted to hold the land.
Doorbar said the immediate concern was to address the wrongs done to their tupuna (ancestors).
Maori Party candidate Chris McKenzie was also getting his hands dirty for a cause he said was dear to him.
Gone were the days of negative protest action, McKenzie said.
"Here in Taranaki there is a legacy of peaceful protest. This is a group of people who have had to speculate for years while people prosper on their lands."
"This is their way of telling the community and the country there are some issues left for them."
Nioka Behan-Kitto is one of the younger hapu members and said the decision affected her generation more than their parents.
"It's our future, it's our whenua, it's where we're from.
"We're the ones who will grow up with their decision that they made on their own and haven't even thought to come and speak to us."
Te Atiawa's settlement was supported by 77 per cent of the 40.2 per cent of iwi members who voted and was signed off on August 9.
Taranaki Daily News