2 Mar 2017

Parihaka rejects $9m Crown payment offer

8:32 am on 2 March 2017

Parihaka, the village at the centre of non-violent resistance to land confiscations in Taranaki during the 1870s, has rejected the cash on offer as part of a deal with the Crown.

Parihaka Papakainga Trust chair Puna Wano-Bryant

Parihaka Papakainga Trust chair Puna Wano-Bryant says no amount of money could compensate the ancestors and indeed the surviving descendants of Parihaka for what they have endured. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

In an arrangement that sits outside the usual Treaty settlement process, Cabinet has approved a payment of $9 million to help Parihaka with its water supply, construction of a waste water facility and building refurbishments.

In 1879, under the leadership of prophets Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi, men set out from Parihaka to plough land illegally confiscated from Māori.

Their defiance eventually led to 1600 government troops sacking the settlement on 5 November 1881, arresting its men and imprisoning them in the South Island.

Parihaka Papakainga Trust chairwoman Puna Wano-Bryant said the Crown money was not about making up for past wrongs.

"No amount of money can account for what our tipuna endured, what the ancestors and, indeed, the surviving uri and descendants of Parihaka have endured. No amount of money could compensate for that."

Parihaka Pa, circa 1900, with Mount Taranaki - taken by an unidentified photographer.

Parihaka circa 1900, with Mt Taranaki beyond. Photo: Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand / Ref 1/2-056542-F, Alexander Turnbull Library, http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23078293

Ms Puna Wano-Bryant said after a series of hui the feedback was that $9m was not enough to get Parihaka back on its feet.

"Infrastructure is really important because for Parihaka to carry out its legacy, a legacy [that] has national and international significance and people come from all over to be a part of, it needs the basic necessities to survive and operate."

Ms Wano-Bryant said trust members supported the other 10 elements of the reconciliation package.

They include a Crown apology, a legacy statement, help establishing a governance and management structure, the creation of a intellectual property framework and deals with 10 Crown agencies and three local councils.

Trustee Ruakere Hond said it was up to the trust to put its members' wishes into action.

Parihaka Papakainga Trust trustee Ruakere Hond.

Trustee Ruakere Hond says there is an overwhelmingly positive feeling about the reconciliation process. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

"The level of support in all the other areas was well above 90 percent, apart from the level of resourcing.

"I think that it is understandable ... but we can't be beyond the fact that people are feeling positive around this reconciliation process.

"It is important the Papakainga Trust recognises it, and then works out the best way forward in terms of making it happen."

The trust has a master plan for Parihaka. It includes building a multi-purpose cultural centre and developing a sustainable settlement with affordable housing.

It would like to buy a farm, but, in his offer letter, Attorney General Chris Finlayson warned if any Crown money was used to buy land it would come out of the $9m.

Mr Hond said, if achieved, the masterplan would secure Te Whiti and Tohu's legacy.

"The legacy is something that is based around a set of values and principles that we are able to identify from things Tohu and Te Whiti did in their time.

"Things such as community development based on equity of people and participation ... sustainable living, so that we live within the resources that we have, and the concept of non-violent conflict resolution."

A spokesperson for Attorney General Chris Finlayson said he would keep working towards a settlement.

A spokesperson said Attorney General Chris Finlayson would keep working towards a settlement. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Ms Puna-Bryant said the dream was to restore Parihaka to the vibrant community it was in the 1800s.

"The idea is to take Parihaka back to where it was in its former glory. And not just structurally ... but spiritually and culturally where our people were thriving.

"This is an opportunity for us to start again."

In statement, a spokesperson for Attorney General Chris Finlayson said he would keep working towards a settlement.

"The Attorney intends to continue working with Parihaka on reconciliation of its grievances against the Crown and building a new relationship with the community that recognises its value to New Zealand," the spokesperson said.

The trust said it would draft its legacy statement while it waited for the Crown's response on the cash component of the reconciliation agreement.