Petition flies the flag for 'Parihaka Day'

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 12/05/2011

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Supporters of a national Parihaka Day have presented a petition to Parliament.

The petition has 892 signatures calling for November 5 to be recognised as Parihaka Day to commemorate the peaceful resolution of conflict in New Zealand in 1881.

The petition is supported by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia and was presented to a select committee in Wellington yesterday.

The petition calls for the date to be recognised as a commemorative day, not a public holiday.

Mrs Turia said the events at the Coastal Taranaki settlement of Parihaka in the 1880s are not ones to be proud of but are an important part of the country's history and need to be celebrated.

On November 5, 1881, colonial troops swept through the settlement arresting Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, who were leading a campaign of non-co-operation over proposed land sales.

The name Parihaka has become symbolic of peaceful protest and in recent years it has hosted a two-day peace festival.

Ruakere Hond, of Parihaka, said the national day was welcomed by the people of Parihaka but should extend to other tribes and settlements that fought similar battles.

He said there were plenty of national holidays such as Christmas and Anzac Day, but there is no specific Maori day of recognition.

"Waitangi Day is not really a Maori day.

"It recognises an agreement between Pakeha and Maori but isn't specific to Maori and it doesn't focus on that."

The proposed national day falls on a day already recognised for Guy Fawkes – traditionally an opportunity for New Zealanders to light bonfires and set off fireworks.

Mrs Turia said she finds Guy Fawkes bizarre and of no relevance to New Zealanders or the nation's history.

"To think that more than 400 years later, across the world in Aotearoa, our nation celebrates the capture and execution of a man attempting to assassinate the English royalty and Parliament is unusual in itself," Mrs Turia said.

"Meanwhile on that very same day, the November 5, 1881, events were taking place under our own horizons that barely rate a mention."

She said this year marks 130 years since the events at Parihaka.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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