Pax Christi New Zealand/Aotearoa

These contemporary paintings from New Zealand (by Peter Healy) represent significant events that took place during the period of British colonisation in the 19th century. Under the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi between Queen Victoria of England and the Chiefs of Aotearoa, the Maori People of New Zealand had been assured that their land, language, culture, forest and fishing grounds would be respected always.

In the face of land confiscation by the British settlers, land companies and the military, the Treaty was grossly violated. The Maori people, as well as losing their land and livelihood, suffered severely through the loss of their highly esteemed qualities of Tapu and Mana (Sacredness and Dignity).

The people of Parihaka, near Mount Taranaki exhausted all possible means of peaceful protest to protect their land. Then as the British settler military approached to seize the land by force, under the leadership of their chief Te Whiti o Rongomai and his associate Tohu, they surrounded their Marae in a welcome of passive resistance, the children playing, the young girls dancing, the women singing, the warriors practising a welcome, the chiefs ready to speak. 

But all to no avail. The tribe was scattered as refugees in their own land, the leaders captured and imprisoned in the south for a long time. A report of this event published in the Colonial Times was eventually read by Mahatma Gandhi when he worked for the Colonial Office in Africa. He later wrote of the impact it made upon him and its influence on his subsequent philosophy of passive resistance. Gandhi was in turn to influence Martin Luther King.

These two pictures serve as symbols for the desire of Pax Christi New Zealand/Aotearoa to be active in reconciling the indigenous and various migrant people today.