Parihaka Day plea gains momentum

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2012
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TARANAKI DAILY NEWS
A push to create Parihaka Day is gaining traction.

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A push to create Parihaka Day is gaining traction as Taranaki iwi leaders and the Maori Party begin to flex their political muscle.

Last year, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia presented a petition with 892 signatures to Parliament calling for the day to replace Guy Fawkes.

It would be a commemorative day, not a public holiday.

Yesterday, Maori Party senior adviser Chris McKenzie told the Taranaki Daily News they were moving in the right direction to make the dream a reality.

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

Mr McKenzie said there were no plans to drop Guy Fawkes entirely but instead offer a day for New Zealanders to celebrate their history and each other.

It would create balance to Waitangi Day that was often seen as a flashpoint for cultural debate, he said.

"We need a day when we can talk about things that are tough and Waitangi Day provides that opportunity. We also need a day for celebration."

Mr McKenzie said once the bill was drafted it would be dropped into the private members' ballot, and due to their confidence and supply agreement with the Government it would get past the first reading.

"At the very least."

However, they wouldn't sit on their hands waiting for it to be plucked out and could approach the Government to run with it itself.

"We aren't worried whose name is on top of it," he said.

"We expect this to get overwhelming support."

Provincial iwi leaders agree and say the proposed national day was long overdue.

Nga Hapu o Ngaruahine Iwi Incorporated chairwoman Daisy Noble said it was time to push Guy Fawkes aside and embrace a day with national significance.

"I think it's a good thing.

"It was a key event in our history that must be remembered."

She said far from being a day to point the finger it would be about coming together and celebrating the good in the country.

Te Atiawa Iwi Authority chairwoman Wikitoria Keenan said it was time to accept what happened and move on.

"I don't think we should be scared of our past. I think we should acknowledge it."

Maori identity Peter Moeahu cut straight to the point.

"What better cause to celebrate than peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind.

"If we can't celebrate that as a nation then I think something is wrong."

No-one from Parihaka could be reached for comment yesterday, but the Daily News understands its people are relieved politicians are finally taking the idea seriously.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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