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“Under the mountain, the children sing”

Zoe Martis

On Friday 21 May, our Year Nine Te Reo Māori class went to watch ‘The Way of The Rakura’ (a Parihaka musical).  It is based on a true story of what happened under Mount Taranaki in the period before, during and after the invasion of Parihaka. Presented by the Toitoi Theatre Company in Auckland’s Bruce Mason Centre, the cast had a wide range of ages. This musical displayed the differing points of view of the people there at the time of the Parihaka invasion of the 1800s (including journalists, government officials, Māori, settlers and tamariki).

It illustrated the journalist’s belief that the Māori, under Mount Taranaki at the Parihaka settlement, meant no harm and that they lived peacefully. At the same time, other government members felt that Māori were trespassing, cruel and dangerous.

Parihaka was known as the last refuge for the Māori, a place to go when their own land had been taken from them and they had no where else to go. Parihaka was a peaceful settlement that didn’t believe in war or weapons and their people wanted to promote peace and live in unity with the settlers. This was a strong message that came through along with a challenge for us all today to continue the work of Te Whiti and Tohu in promoting unity amongst all cultures in Aotearoa.

The Parihaka musical was a very emotional piece that connected strongly with the audience. Many schools stood at the end and performed a haka tautoko to the cast; this was truly incredible. It was a fantastic experience for our Year Nine ākonga to watch the story of Parihaka and make connections with our class learning.

“if any come with guns, be not afraid” – Te Whiti to his Ploughmen.