17 Jun 2016

Emotional scenes as hikoi reaches Parihaka

8:23 pm on 17 June 2016

A Taranaki peace hikoi with more than 500 people has arrived at Parihaka after a three-day journey covering 44km.

New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd is embraced by Parihaka elder Te Whero o te Rangi Bailey after the peace hiko entered Parihaka.

New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd is embraced by Parihaka elder Te Whero o te Rangi Bailey. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The hikoi was a reaction to the abuse New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd encountered when he advocated for a Māori ward on the district council.

Mr Judd said he was spat at and verbally abused in front of his children for championing the proposal, which was eventually thrown out following a citizens-initiated referendum.

Today, there were tears and wailing as karakia were said as part of formal protocols when the group entered the historic settlement of Parihaka.

Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy had joined the hikoi for the final leg of the march.

 race relations commissioner Susan

Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy joins New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd on the hikoi. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

About 150 people left with Mr Judd on this morning's walk from Okato to Parihaka, and the number grew to more than 500 after the main hikoi converged with out-of-town buses at Pungarehu, a couple of kilometres from the Parihaka turnoff.

Dame Susan said she hoped the hikoi would be just the start of a long-needed conversation about how different cultures interact in New Zealand.

"I think Andrew Judd is making a very brave stand and I know what it's like to have people turn on you," she said.

Noting that the man leading the walk was in his 80s and had been there every day, she said she was "amazed by the number and variety of people".

"I've met people from Auckland, Christchurch, all over."

Aucklander Therese Mangos, left, walking with New Plymouth relative Megan Gundesen

Aucklander Therese Mangos, left, walking with New Plymouth relative Megan Gundesen. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

John Aiono says the good company has taken his mind off his sore feet.

Aucklander John Aiono has walked all three days of the hikoi. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Speaking to reporters this morning, Mr Judd agreed his stance was a challenge to people who wanted to represent New Zealanders.

"Whoever stands in any council, not only here in Taranaki but throughout New Zealand, and indeed for the government, to represent us - if your strong view is that a Māori ward or a seat on a standing committee isn't required, and you say you represent us, what work or effort have you done to engage in a Maori perspective to actually understand the unique bicultural relationship we have with tangata whenua?"

Mr Judd would not be drawn on his next move. Acknowledging there had been calls for him to "take the next step" politically, he said he would not rule out that out.

"Nothing's ruled out other than standing for the (New Plymouth) mayoralty."

Parihaka was the centre of passive resistance to the Crown in the mid-1800s. After the settlement was sacked in 1881, the leaders of the peace movement were illegally jailed in the South Island and the Chatham Islands.

Children lead the 500-strong hikoi onto Parihaka.

Children lead the 500-strong hikoi onto Parihaka. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

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