Editorial : Parihaka Day not Guy Fawkes?

Reprinted from The Common Good, No 43, Advent 2007

We were delighted to see a leading article in a recent edition of Welcom, the archdiocese of Wellington’s monthly paper, with the above headline. Guy Fawkes commemorates the 5 November 1605 attempt to blow up the British houses of parliament and kill King James I in protest at protestant rule. With the call of Vatican II and subsequent popes’ exhortation to the Church to build relationships with people of other faiths, it is no long appropriate to mark this commemoration.

More importantly, 5 November is the anniversary of the invasion of Parihaka in 1881 by government troops and the culmination of two decades of non-violent resistance to land seizures from Maori by the Crown. Is it not time to consider naming 5 November National Nonviolence Day or even Parihaka Day? This would be one way to commemorate the amazing non-violent resistance shown all those years ago, to honour the Parihaka leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi and remember their people’s struggle. It could become a day to celebrate and explore non-violence as a way of living in an increasingly violent world.

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