1880s

The people of Parihaka use peaceful resistance against 1500 New Zealand Constabulary and volunteer troops. The New Zealand Police Force Act (1886) separates police and the permanent militia.

1881 Parihaka Taranaki peaceful resistance led by Te Whiti and Tohu

 

Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi, of Taranaki and Te Ātiawa iwi, were the main leaders at Parihaka in 1881, and it was their message which has ensured Parihaka has come to symbolise peaceful resistance in the face of land confiscation.

Over 1500 New Zealand Constabulary and volunteer troops marched on Parihaka on that early November morning in 1881. These were men who were ready for a battle. Instead of violence, they were met with singing children and offers of food. Te Whiti and Tohu had ensured everyone at Parihaka understood they were to offer no resistance to the troops. So when Te Whiti and Tohu were arrested, the government forces were surprised at the silence which met them and the dignified way their prisoners surrendered. This was how Parihaka was able to escape anticipated violence and killing on that day.

Parihaka Pā was subsequently destroyed over the next few weeks. Its occupation then lasted for five more years. The prisoners were returned in 1883, although Te Whiti was imprisoned twice more before his death in 1907. In 2017 the Crown apologised for the atrocities committed at Parihaka, including the imprisonment without trial of residents, the depravation of the prisoners’ basic human rights, the invasion and forced eviction of residents, the sacking of the Pā, and for the rapes committed by Crown troops and the arrests of Te Whiti and Tohu.

The white albatross feather toroa raukura, worn in the hair of Te Whiti and Tohu’s followers, is a symbol of Parihaka’s passive resistance movement. Each year on 5 November a remembrance day is held. This is a day of respect, memorialising the sadness, tenacity and survival of Parihaka’s people.

Casimar Larkin


Reference:

Ron Lambert, ‘Taranaki region - Māori–Pākehā conflict’, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand (accessed 18 April 2018)

Invasion of pacifist settlement at Parihaka’ (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 10-Jul-2017 (accessed 18 April 2018)

Virginia Winder, ‘The Plunder of Parihaka’, Puke Ariki (accessed 18 April 2018)

Taare Waitara with children from Parihaka Pā, 1881. Alexander Turnbull Library (1/1-006430-G)
Taare Waitara with children from Parihaka Pā, 1881. Alexander Turnbull Library (1/1-006430-G)

Parihaka Pā, 1881. Alexander Turnbull Library (1/2-056542-F)
Parihaka Pā, 1881. Alexander Turnbull Library (1/2-056542-F)

 

1 September 1886 New Zealand Police Force Act separated the New Zealand Constabulary Force into the New Zealand Police Force and the New Zealand Permanent Militia

 

This was the time definitively to split policing from soldiering. On 1 September, the New Zealand Police Force and the Permanent Militia came into being, leaving the Police to concentrate solely on the preservation of the peace and the investigation and detection of offences. Interestingly, however, both bodies still reported to the Minister of Defence. The first Commissioner was politician/soldier Sir George Whitmore, who was succeeded in 1887 by Major Walter Gudgeon, who was in turn succeeded in 1890 by prison administrator Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Hume, continuing his role of Inspector of Prisons as well as being Commissioner of Police.

The ranks below that of Commissioner were initially Inspector, Sergeant and Constable, with others being added later. The situation at the top changed in 1897 when a former Chief Inspector from Scotland Yard, John Tunbridge, became the country’s first professional Police Commissioner. In 1898 a Royal Commission, led by Magistrate Herbert Wardell and of which both Hume and Tunbridge were members, travelled the country to determine the way forward for the policing of a much more settled society.

Sherwood Young

New Zealand Police Commissioner Sir George Whitmore, 1886. New Zealand Police Museum Collection (2007/1/15)
New Zealand Police Commissioner Sir George Whitmore, 1886. New Zealand Police Museum Collection (2007/1/15)