Powerful peace, Robert Sullivan

Te Whiti o Rongomai and the Resistance of Parihaka
Danny Keenan
Huia, $45.00,
ISBN 9781775501954

This account of the non-violent resistance movement founded by the prophets Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi at the Taranaki settlement of Parihaka begins with a mihi by Rangikotuku Rukuwai, who is a descendant of Te Whiti, and who was raised by Tohu’s family. It sets the tone of the deep connections the author has with the tangata whenua of Parihaka as a member of Te Whiti’s hapū, Ngāti Te Whiti. The values of manaakitanga, or care for people, and rangimarie, or peace for one another, in his mihi, also set the stage for this meticulous, respectful narrative. Danny Keenan has relied on a range of oral, archival, official and published source materials. His entry for Te Whiti o Rongomai in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography did not cite oral histories, and so he takes the opportunity in his introduction to acknowledge his sources in this work, focusing on the two prophets and the conflicts in Taranaki leading up to the peaceful resistance. This is the book’s point of difference. It is a concerted, indigenous account of the events surrounding the invasion and at times violently destructive occupation of Parihaka in 1881. It is told without rancour. The unvarnished tone, and the weight of historical evidence, provide many insights into the lives and motivations of prominent Pākehā and Māori leaders of the time, without recourse to the highs and lows of drama.

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Posted in History, Maori, Non-fiction, Review and War
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