Bicultural Dreams and Visions (2)

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Bicultural Dreams and Visions
Parihaka 1880's
Parihaka 1880's

Picture courtesy of stuff.co.nz

Continued from Sunday. . . . .The Clapham Sect (or Clapham saints), in England were instrumental in the forming of the Church Missionary Soc. (CMS) who were eventually responsible for sending missionaries to New Zealand. During the 1830’s the Under-Secretary of the British Colonial Office was Sir James Stephen. Stephen’s mother and wife were both members of the Clapham sect. Sir James was passionate about charting a new way of relating to indigenous peoples - one that recognized their rights and looked to develop a mutually beneficial partnership. He was the driving force in the Colonial Office’s policy at this time, holding a great deal of influence as a senior civil servant.

He was not alone. The Cabinet Minister in charge of the Colonial Office between 1835 - 1839 was Lord Glenelg (a.k.a. Charles Grant), a son of one of the Clapham sect. There were others also, who were part of the group, and it can be safely stated that they dominated the Colonial Office at the time. They were very real irritants to the likes of Edward Gibbon Wakefield (The NZ Company) who had big plans for making money out of the new frontier, and seemed determined to charge ahead come ‘hell-or-high-water.

The Clapham sect’s fingerprints can be seen all over the brief given to Capt. William Hobson, as the basis for the Treaty of Waitangi. The document was written as a covenant - a sacred agreement before God. This is how it was understood by both Stephen and Williams, and how it was presented to the rangitira (chiefs). Missionary Henry Williams and his son translated it into Te Reo. Without his encouragement Maori would never have signed it, he held a great deal of Mana with them. Furthermore it was the missionaries that took the copies of the Treaty around New Zealand to gain the signatures of the many rangitira who weren’t present at Waitangi.

The rangitira signed the Treaty in good faith. It was the English who later broke it. Forty years later, Maori had been betrayed, disregarded, overwhelmed and decimated. Vast tracts of their land had been lost, through theft and confiscation (false land claims through the courts). This escalated in the 1860’s into the NZ Wars.

Eventually sick of the bloodshed on both sides, two Maori Rangitira, great warriors, but also great men of God, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahe came apart and set up a peaceful non-fortified, open village, at a place called Parihaka in Taranaki. They welcomed Maori from all tribes and sought to live according to Christian principles. God blessed them and they thrived. The settlement (population 2000) in the early 1880’s became a target for the land-hungry government. The Maori Christians response, was a campaign of passive resistance, Nightly pulling up the pegs of the surveyors on their land, who were marking out “confiscated” land in preparation for sale to pakeha settlers.

The Colonial Government decided that Te Whiti and Tohu and their people were a threat to “progress”. They sent in troops of armed constabulary. They were met by the children of Parihaka singing welcome and offering them food. In spite of the hospitable welcome and that fact that no violence of any kind was offered, they ransacked and destroyed houses and crops, then arrested hundreds of men including Te Whiti and Tohu. The army then raped every girl and woman over 12 years old as a deliberate policy. The woman suffered a massive outbreak of syphilis and many half-cast children were born from the rapes. The men were imprisoned without trial, sent to jails down south in Dunedin where many died building the Dunedin causeway.