7 Sep 2017

Rua Kēnana's descendants prepare for Crown pardon

7:56 pm on 7 September 2017

The descendants of Tūhoe prophet Rua Kēnana will gather in Maungapōhatu this weekend to witness the righting of an historic wrong.

Rua Kēnana, pictured about 1907, and Maungapōhatu Marae in 2016

Rua Kēnana, pictured about 1907, and Maungapōhatu Marae in 2016 Photo: Alexander Turnbull Library (Rua Kēnana) / Edward Gay (Maungapōhatu Marae)

In front of several hundred people at the foot of Tūhoe's sacred mountain in the heart of Urewera, the Crown will formally agree to pardon Mr Kēnana.

For more than 100 years, the descendants of Rua Kēnana have carried the pain of the events that unfolded on 2 April, 1916.

On that day, armed police invaded Manugapōhatu to arrest Rua Kēnana on sedition charges.

His son Toko, and Toko's uncle Te Maipi Te Whiu, were killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Mr Rua Kēnana was then imprisoned for 18 months, and his community at Maungapōhatu fell apart.

Kirituia Tumarae Teka said she was glad a statutory pardon could come in her lifetime, and her grandchildren wouldn't have to carry on the fight.

"I feel for my father, my mother, all of our fathers and mothers and kuia that went through hell."

Rua Kenana standing at the doorway of the temple.

Rua Rua Kēnana standing at the doorway of the temple. Photo: Supplied / Auckland Museum Collections

Rapata Wiri is Te Maipi Te Whiu's great-great grandson, and the pardon carried personal significance for him.

Dr Wiri said the statutory pardon would help to open people's eyes to what happened at Maungapōhatu.

"The historical injustices that went on at Maungapohatu that have never been spoken about until now that are being told to the world and the blood that was spilt there that blood has been cleansed."

Māori development minister Te Ururoa Flavell brought together members of Ngā Toenga o Ngā Tamariki a Iharaira me ngā Uri o Maungapōhatu Charitable Trust at a press conference at Rotorua yesterday.

The agreement is not the statutory pardon and legislation will be required to make the pardon official.

Mr Flavell said he had worked closely alongside Tamakaimoana whānau on the statutory pardon.

"The whole kaupapa is hugely significant for them and it's made an effect on me."

Some of the younger descendants of Mr Kēnana were also present at the press conference.

Nika Rua, who shares the name of his ancestor Rua, said he often thinks of his name's origin.

"It will always remind of my great-great-grandfather and the work he completed in his day, and I suppose we carry on the legacy he's left behind."

Atamira Tumarae Nuku said the statutory pardon would help bring awareness to younger generations of Mr Kēnana's past, and also help to bring closure to her whānau.

"It's a step forward in the right direction, it's being able to leave the pain of the past behind and look forward to a brighter future."

The ceremony will take place at 10am on Saturday and will become official once legislation has been passed in Parliament.

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