1879: Parihaka Cult sends in The Ploughmen
November 3, 2018
Activist arm of the Parihaka Cult
c23 June, 1879, Activist arm of the Parihaka Cult, The Ploughmen, terrorise Taranaki settlers. They literally plough disputed land, and beyond it into settler’s crown grant land. The first to be affected was The Waipapa homestead of James Livingston and family.
It must have scared the hell out of the Livingstons, who lived adjacent to the Maori land, to have their lawn set upon and turned over! In fairness, (government?) surveyors had, without warning, alarmed Maoris by smashing down their fences and cut roadways through their crops.
That’s a bit like confronting a Taliban suicide bomber…
James held his nerve though and offered to pay them to plough an adjacent paddock! That’s a bit like confronting a Taliban suicide bomber and offering him a paid job doing demolition work with his explosives instead.
The Republic of Hawera
By late July ’79 the ploughing suddenly stops. The settlers were furious and ready to shoot! They had spontaneously formed their own militia. By an election, Livingstone was made captain of an ‘Ejectment Committee’ that rounded up some 180 Maoris. For their self-actualised response the settlers earned the superhero name ‘Republic of Hawera’.
The work of The Republic of Hawera is undone.
Rather than send the prisoners of war off to, say, the Chatham Islands, as in the past, Government passes retrospective legislation allowed the terrorists to be held for 2 years as criminals. By October 1880 the Government starts releasing the ‘guerrilla ploughman’. The work of The Republic of Hawera is undone.
Saved by The State: Parihaka Cult Rises Again
Through 1881 the Parihaka Cult swells in force and asserts sovereignty against the Government. Thousands of Culture Shocked Maoris gather, lured by the promise of everlasting life and the resurrection of their loved ones. This also became an humanitarian disaster due to the poverty and disease. The new iteration of the danger was gracefully ended in November by a non-violent dissolution backed by overwhelming martial force.
(I say ‘iteration’ because in a broader sense this conflict had manifested before and would again. Te Kooti had been a generation before, Hone Toia the next, and Ratana the generation after that.)
1. Livingston’s lawn after being ploughed by the Parihaka ploughgmen (Jim Baker FB share, May 28 2017)
2. James Livingston– Sgt. Livingston, volunteeir, in the Patea Field Force, was in the along side the Bush Rangers with Major von Tempsky when the later was killed at The Beak of the Bird, 1848; Alexander Turnbull Library; Update: Earlier post incorrectly stated JL was himself a Ranger