Rua Kēnana: Monumental occasion for Tūhoe descendants

Published on Rāmere, 20 Hakihea, 2019

Hundreds of Tūhoe descendants gathered at Parliament this week to witness the passing of a bill that pardoned their tupuna, Tūhoe prophet Rua Kēnana who was wrongfully arrested and convicted over a century ago following a police raid at Maungapōhatu in Te Urewera.

Te Pire kia Unuhia te Hara kai Runga i a Rua Kēnana | Rua Kēnana Pardon Bill includes an apology, a declaration to restore the mana of Rua Kenana, and a Crown acknowledgement of the lasting pain the event caused.

On 2 April 1916, 70-armed police invaded Maungapōhatu to arrest Rua Kēnana. His son Toko Rua and Te Maipi Te Whiu were killed during gunfire exchange and other Māori and police were injured. Kēnana was cleared of all charges but then imprisoned on an earlier charge of ‘moral resistance’ for the illicit sale of alcohol months earlier. Eight jurors involved in his 47-day trial objected to his harsh sentence - but were ignored.

The incident has long been a point of contention for ngā uri o Maungapōhatu and has led to a long and intergenerational journey for them to seek justice.

Whānau spokesperson Nika Rua says the pardon acknowledges the unjust treatment of Rua Kēnana, the damage to their reputation and suffering as a whānau and as a community.

During the third reading, Minister Mahuta acknowledged the descendants for their long fight to clear Kēnana’s name.

"We are here because a generation of descendants of Rua Kēnana fought long and hard to have him recognised in a way that upholds his mana but also the woeful way in which the Crown had treated him and the wrongful arrest that had occurred as a result,” said Minister Mahuta.

On Saturday 21 December 2019 at Maungapōhatu marae, Ngā Toenga o ngā Iharaira me ngā Uri o Maungapōhatu Charitable Trust will host the Crown headed by the Governor General, Her Excellency, The Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy and iwi from across the motu as the Royal Assent is given to the bill.

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