Hero photograph
Photo by Jane Smallfield

Commemoration of Parihaka and Pakakohi Prisoners

Gabby Liddell, Māori Prefect —

The 5th of November is a very special and sad day in our nation's history. We remember the prisoners of Parihaka and Pakakohi who were held in Dunedin between 1869 and 1881 and worked the area particularly in Smith Street close to our school, and also levelled the ground for a cricket pitch when Otago Boys' High School occupied our school site.

After three years of discussion, planning, and work, Kāhui Kōrero (our Māori Student Council) were very proud to unveil a memorial to commemorate the Parihaka and Pakakohi Prisoners. The prisoners were Māori men, brought down from Taranaki to work in and around Dunedin. From the research sourced from Ian Church in ‘Salutary Punishment - Taranaki Māori Prisoners in Dunedin, 1869-72 and 1879-81’ we know they built several roads and structures. When Kāhui Kōrero found out about these Māori prisoners, we felt there should be a way that we acknowledge them. This rock and its plaque is to remember and respect these men and the history of this whenua.

This type of rock is from Te Tai ō Tinirau or Blackhead. Tinirau was a famous chief from Tahiti who invented haka as revenge for Kae killing his pet whale. In Tahiti, there is the same rare rock formation as those found at Blackhead, this being the reason why it is named Te Tai ō Tinirau. When the Year 13s of Wairua Pūhou leave school, they are gifted with a taonga made from this rock acknowledging the birth of haka.

The toka was gifted to our school by Blackhead Quarries. I would like to thank Blackhead Quarries, Mac Te Ngahue, Simon Pickard, and the school, for making this happen.

Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua

As man disappears from sight, the land remains.