Challenge 2000’s presence at Parihaka

Reflections from attending the Crown apology at Parihaka.

A small settlement of unassuming buildings and homes, Parihaka is one of New Zealand’s most important historic sites.  Located 7 kms inland from the coast near Pungarehu, Parihaka is a small Taranaki settlement with a big history. The events that took place in and around the area, particularly between 1860 and 1900, have affected the political, cultural and spiritual dynamics of the entire country.

In the 1870s and 1880s, Parihaka was the site of New Zealand’s most visible episodes of peaceful protest when two Maori leaders, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi used passive resistance methods to occupy Maori land that the colonial government had confiscated. Such confiscations were in direct breach of the Treaty of Waitangi, which had been signed in 1840.

On November 5 1881, Native Minister John Bryce rode on Parihaka at the head of 1,500 armed constabulary and volunteer militia. There was no resistance. Te Whiti and Tohu Kakahi were arrested and transported to the South Island, where they were kept without trial for two years.

The ongoing spiritual legacy of Parihaka is one of living in harmony with the land and humanity. Some people, noting Te Whiti’s non-violent methods, have referred to him as “Gandhi before Gandhi”.


I went to Parihaka to commemorate/ participate in a significant milestone on the journey to peace and reconciliation between the Crown and Parihaka and maybe tinged with a little self-interest to ascertain and understand how one can reconcile something so terrible with peace and acceptance.

As a senior public servant I was to have participated in the march on to Parihaka as a representative with the Crown official party made up of Governor Generals, Mayors, Ministers and crown officials. I felt extremely uncomfortable around doing this even knowing that I was part of an official party, it didn’t feel right wairua wise.

I was saved the experience where the night before my colleague who runs the Taranaki Office and is the Pou Maanaki at Parihaka asked if I could help in the back and open 40 bags of Kinas and shuck some Paua. I jumped at the chance and was still able to share in the kōrero and the participate from the back without having to deal with the cultural compromising encounter.

The minister for Treaty of Waitangi negotiations, Christopher Finlayson, delivered an apology on behalf of the Crown to the people of the Parihaka for the Crown’s acts of aggression. The Crown delegation was greeted by a united Parihaka at the gate, as their colonial forebears were 135 years ago, but with peace, not aggression, in their hearts. It was an extraordinary sight to witness.


The Apology

Attorney General Christopher Finlayson and Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell delivered the crown’s apology for the sacking of Parihaka in 1881.

In the apology, Mr Finlayson said Parihaka was established in 1866 as a final refuge for hapu whose homes and cultivations had been repeatedly destroyed by crown troops and whose land had been confiscated. It was established under principles of compassion, equality, unity and self-sufficiency.

Under the leadership of Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai the community asserted its customary rights to land and political autonomy through symbolic acts of protest while promoting peaceful engagement between Maori and Pākehā.

“The crown responded to peace with tyranny, to unity with division and to autonomy with oppression. The Crown therefore offers its deepest apology to the people of Parihaka for all its failures,” Mr Finlayson said. The apology detailed those failures, including imprisoning Parihaka residents indefinitely without trial for the ploughing and fencing campaigns of 1879 and 1880, the invasion of Parihaka in November 1881, the rapes by crown troops in the aftermath of the invasion causing the immeasurable and enduring harm to the women of Parihaka, and other through crown actions and omissions.

“Appropriate”, “overdue”, “not enough” were some of the whānau’s comments regarding the apology.  My own thoughts were that “it offers hope for our future Ngai Māori/Ngai Pākehā”. The resolution package and financial redress will go a little way in the work to develop the papakaingā and in carving a new way forward for the community.

However, it’s not enough, a national peace day/ Remembrance Day is required to hold us to account that we never forget and pay homage to the intention and the wairua of peace and reconciliation.

The ceremony, He Puanga Haeata will close one chapter in the Parihaka story, and will be remembered as one of the most significant milestones on the long road of the ongoing work to achieve peace and justice in Aotearoa New Zealand.


It was appropriate also to see the Army and Police in the back doing the catering for the hui and feeding the people of Parihaka, the irony of it was not lost on many.


Shane Graham

Challenge 2000 Board Member


Hon Peter Dunne and Hon Nikki Kaye join us for Youth Week 2017

The theme of Youth week was “Our Voices Count, Count Our Voices” ……

In the weeks leading up to it, our Youth Workers, young leaders and youth volunteers organised an Amazing Race, prepared clues, did art work and made up a song called “Whakarongomai”.

50 young people were directly involved in the Race, the discussions in the Loaves and Fishes Hall and then the visit to Parliament where they were hosted by the Challenge’s local MP the Honourable Peter Dunne and the Minister of Education and Youth Development the Honourable Nikki Kaye who answered questions and discussed things with the group.

The young people who spoke, mentioned climate change, poverty, the Free West Papua campaign, compulsory Te Reo in schools, terrorism, making political issues more understandable for younger people, the voting age and honouring the Treaty as matters they were concerned about.

The young people were very impressed by the attention that Nikki Kaye gave each of their questions/comments and also the way she shared her recent health challenge. Nikki challenged the Youth week participants to value and live their lives and do what they could to use their gifts to make an impact.

After Parliament, participants had kai back at the hall and worked out ways that they could become more involved in serving their communities and becoming full citizens of Aotearoa.

Mayor of Wellington’s visit to Challenge 2000

Challenge 2000 had the privilege of a visit from the Mayor of Wellington, Justin Lester.  This was an informal meeting where we talked about our work in the greater Wellington region and Wellington City, and our work to enhance social justice, social responsibility and personal dignity.

Justin was impressed with the number of staff and volunteers we have and the work we do. In particular, he was interested in the 5 youth houses we run in Kilbirnie, Lyall Bay and Island Bay.

A wide range of topics were covered including our new premises in Wanaka Street,  the plight of at risk young people, emergency water tanks, the role we could play in civil defence emergencies and a discussion on the provisions of our Wellington City contract.   A valuable meeting for us and Justin we think!


Quiz Night Thank You

Challenge 2000 has regularly held quiz evenings and other fundraising events across our 28 year history and this year was our most successful. 19 teams competed for a range of great prizes and all reported a very enjoyable night, even though there was a typical Wellington storm happening outside.  It is humbling to acknowledge continuing recognition of the great work Challenge 2000 undertakes for young people and families in Johnsonville and the greater Wellington region.
The money raised will go directly towards our various youth programmes.  While we receive Government funding for some of our work that we do, many of the services we offer are possible only with the money we are able to raise through events like the quiz night.
Thank you again to those that participated in the quiz evening.


Today Challenge 2000 remembers all those who served our country in war and in peace.

We remember their commitment, struggles, fears, pain and achievements.
We commit ourselves to making Aotearoa- New Zealand and our world a better place in our time.
We will continue to challenge ourselves and others to live lives of sacrifice and service. We will learn to live by the values of honour, integrity, love, citizenship and responsibility.
We will remember them.

Challenge 2000 Quiz Night

Come along to our fantastic quiz night, on Sunday the 30th of April, 6.45pm at the Johnsonville Community Centre. 

There are going to be some awesome prizes to be won including passes on the Interislander, accommodation at the Museum Hotel, Restaurant Vouchers, Car Service Vouchers, a Bike and much more!

Please register yourself or your teams with Megan ASAP by email or 04 477 6827!!

Quiz Poster 2017

Caritas Challenge 2017

A new year, a new Caritas Challenge for the year 2017. And many many new tasks and challenges for us in our daily life to help saving our planet.

Over 80 people from Challenge, our Youth Houses and from all around Wellington, Porirua and the Hutt took part of the “Sleep in a cardboard house”-challenge and enjoyed talks, activities, authentic food and workshops about climate change. This year’s main project is the support of Kiribati: Due to the higher and higher rising sea level, it becomes almost impossible for them to stay on their land. But we want to keep up their spirit and culture, their communities and families and became part of the Caritas Challenge 2017 with this weekend’s big event. Sleeping in cardboard houses and learning heaps about how WE can save OUR planet.

How can YOU save OUR planet?


Youth Houses – BIG DAY OUT

Over the weekend, all the Youth Houses got together – a day for fun in the sun, and food to be shared. The day was filled with team sports in the morning, lunch and then more sports in the afternoon. Teams were made up and given a specific colour to wear.

Throughout the day there was a range of games where teams (young and old) played against each other… In the hope to be the winning colour thinking was strategic!
Teams brought their spirit, fairness, fun, laughter and at times, chose to be competitive!!! It certainly was a fun day!
Thanks to all those who organised it and for Junior for the being the ref!!

Tu meke Taita

Tumeke Taita was held over the weekend – I had the wonderful opportunity of attending this festival.  I was able to speak with those who were not familiar with Challenge 2000 and also met with those who have been grateful for the assistance Challenge has given them in the past.  It was a great time connecting with people from Taita and the services offered there. I was given the chance to speak and perform on stage so I sang “Wake-Up” by Aaradna.  Despite the wet weather, spirits were high.

Kopua Retreat

Eight young people from Masterton, Porirua and Wellington joined Challenge staff and volunteers at the beautiful Monastery in Kopua, just outside the Hawkes Bay, for a three day retreat.

We had a fantastic few days talking and reflecting on the Year of Mercy.  Topics discussed included: “Who Am I”, “Who is God”, “Servant Leadership”.

It was great for the young people and Challenge 2000 to leave reality behind and reconnect back to both themselves and to God.  New and old friendships were formed and strengthened and a new connection has developed between the Companions and the Monks in the Monastery. We thank the Monks at Kopua for allowing us to stay at the beautiful, restful and tranquil Monastery.

Reflecting IMG_7491 Group