A small settlement of unassuming buildings and homes, Parihaka is one of New Zealand's most important historic sites.
Located seven kilometres inland from the coast near Pungarehu, Parihaka is a small Taranaki settlement with a big history. The events that took place in and around the area, particularly between 1860 and 1900, have affected the political, cultural and spiritual dynamics of the entire country.
In the 1870s and 1880s, Parihaka was the site of New Zealand's most visible episodes of peaceful protest when two Maori leaders, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi used passive resistance methods to occupy Maori land that the colonial government had confiscated. Such confiscations were in direct breach of the Treaty of Waitangi, which had been signed in 1840.
On November 5 1881, Native Minister John Bryce rode on Parihaka at the head of 1,500 armed constabulary and volunteer militia. There was no resistance. Te Whiti and Tohu Kakahi were arrested and transported to the South Island, where they were kept without trial for two years.
The ongoing spiritual legacy of Parihaka is one of living in harmony with the land and humanity. Some people, noting Te Whiti's non-violent methods, have referred to him as "Gandhi before Gandhi".
The town hosts an international peace festival every year in January, and it is still the meeting place of the Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi peoples on the 18th day of every month.