North Taranaki Midweek
Heritage Month to examine the cracks in Taranaki history
Standing outside one of New Zealand’s oldest stone churches, Rob Green quotes the Dean of Coventry.
‘‘We cannot paper over the cracks of history; we must step into the cracks and bring the light.’’
As the coordinator of Taranaki Heritage Month, that’s exactly what Green aims to do.
The event, which runs from October 1 to November 5, features activities all around the region for people to hear the stories of Taranaki’s history and heritage and delve in to exactly what those words mean.
‘‘This is not Heritage Taranaki as an organisation trying to tell the community’s stories,’’ Green said from Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary in New Plymouth.
‘‘We’re inviting people to share their narrative, their understanding, so that we can collectively listen to the stories and get a better understanding of who we are.’’
The events will have major focus on discussions with iwi and hapū, as the organisers want to encompass the region’s entire history of human settlement.
Green said the month of events was a chance for Pākehā especially to sit and listen to the pain endured by Māori during colonisation and listen to a different perspective.
One example is the Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary, which opened in 1846 and is one of Taranaki’s heritage gems.
However, to Māori, the church represents New Zealand’s colonist past, with gravestones in the cemetery speaking of men ‘‘cruelly killed by rebellious Māori’’ and ‘‘killed by hostile Māori’’.
The redevelopment at the Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary aims at building reconciliation between Māori and Pākeha in Taranaki.
In 2018, the burial of Archdeacon Tikituterangi ‘Tiki’ Raumati in the cemetery was a significant step in the process as he is the only Māori interred there.
Beside the cathedral, on the opposite side to cemetery, is where Te Whare Hononga – The House That Binds, a centre for peace and reconciliation, is being built.
The whare will be open for people to come and learn the stories of mana whenua, Ngāti Te Whiti, Te Atiawa and Taranaki.
While the cathedral is closed to the public for earthquake strengthening, Heritage Month will feature two events in its Peace Lounge.
The first, on Tuesday, October 18, at 6pm, will see historian Nigel Prickett talk about Taranaki’s country halls, while on Saturday, November 5, at 3pm, a service of remembrance will be held to mark Parihaka Day.
The flagship event, and what Green calls the heart of the project, will be a panel discussion at the Plymouth International tomorrow from 5pm-8pm.
The panel will be chaired by Taranaki te reo Māori advocate and community leader Dr Ruakere Hond, with guests Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon, Heritage New Zealand chief executive Andrew Coleman, Māori artist Brett Graham, Taranaki Cathedral dean Jay Ruka, Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, and Māori advocate Puna Wano-Bryant.
‘‘It’s up to us to establish a forum where we invite people to tell their stories and actually listen to each other very carefully.’’
Other events include a tour of Pukekura Park on Saturday at 10am, a historic walk through New Plymouth on Monday at 10am, a wander through the Patea Cemetery with the Patea Historical Society on Sunday, October 16, at 10am, and a tour of historic Ohawe Beach on Sunday, October 23, led by Ross Dunlop, former mayor of South Taranaki District Council, at 1pm and 4pm.
All events are listed online at heritagetaranaki.com and Green encourages people to register to ensure numbers for transport.