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Pasifika in Parihaka

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Manu Faaea-Semeatu recently visited the Parauka Marae with the Pasifika Team as part of the CORE Maori Hui, with kaihautu Wharehoka Wano and Deanne ThomasHere are her reflections at the end of her visit.

Montage of Parauka Marae visit

You wouldn't normally see those two words together in a headline, because Pasifika people were not part of the historical events that took place in Parihaka's story.

Sitting in the wharenui, in Parauka Marae, I can't help but wonder how Te Whiti and Tohu would feel about having Pasifika people in their space, because they were such staunch proponents of Maori tikanga, and the prophets wouldn't have known any Pasifika people in their lifetime.

Even looking up at their pictures in the wharenui, I see their eyes looking at me, asking me to think about my own people. What legacy will Pasifika people leave in Aotearoa?

I can feel the mana and the wairua of the place. In my mind's eye as Wharehoka Wano took us through the whenua and showed us the landmarks of his home, I saw children playing games, young warriors with their feathers in their hair, women gathering food and singing waiata. I can also hear marching, a cannon being dragged and pushed to the top of a hill.

I studied New Zealand History in 7th form History at high school. I remember one trip we took was to Meremere, to visit pa sites, and even a colonial museum, to see what settler life was like in early New Zealand.

Nothing would prepare me for the spirit of Parihaka. It reminds me of Samoa, of my own villages where family live in a communal space, make decisions together—and even have the same divisions when conflict, both external and internal, become apparent.

Today we are leaving Parihaka. I wanted to retrace the steps that Wharehoka took us through yesterday, so I woke up early to revisit where he lead us. I stood again at Te Whiti's memorial, and I could hear chanting in the distance, morning karakia in whispered tones carried up to me on the wind. In an instant, the wind started howling, but I felt enveloped in warmth. Suddenly, I remembered what Wharehoka had mentioned yesterday, he talked about tororanui—like the wingspan of an albatross, the people of Parihaka, of many iwi from the North were enveloped by the warmth of Te Whiti and Tohu.

Pasifika in Parihaka, we now understand why there are so many beautiful waiata and stories about this place, being here is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


Photos (from the top):
(1) Tohu's house
(2) Parauka Marae—where we stayed
(3) Teanau Tuiono and Anthony Faitaua with Mt. Taranaki in the background
(4) Te Whiti's memorial
(5) Te Whiti's gravestone