Greenpeace At Parihaka
Greenpeace At Parihaka
Whaia te iti kahurangi Ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei Pursue excellence Should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain

This January Greenpeace was lucky enough to be at the annual Parihaka Peace festival. Not only sharing in the historical and cultural importance of the event we also enjoyed the festivities (hangi, fried bread, music and guarana smoothies among them!) However a great crowd also gave us the chance to spread a crucial message for 2009: looking after our oceans, climate, land and natural resources.

The annual Parihaka Peace Festival is held every year half way between Mount Taranaki and the Tasman Sea. The festival (Jan 9 - 11) commemorates the legacy of Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai, two progressive Maori leaders who formed the small settlement of Parihaka in the 1860's. Although based on strong ideas of community, independence and peace - the village was violently invaded by 1500 government militia in 1881. Many men were arrested, the women violently attacked and the buildings eventually torched.

Despite this, the people of Parihaka were one of the first examples of passive resistance in the world. A place of true cultural and historical significance their legacy of peace is now celebrated. It felt right for Greenpeace to be there because we too are strong believers in the non-violent approach. It's a central part of who we are and the way we work.

Today the festival hosts top musical acts, interactive workshops, a kids zone, a dance space, healing speakers, poets, film, a wide range of non-profit organisations and eco forums as well as having a zero waste management policy in place.

A colourful Greenpeace crew hosted a dynamic green stall by the main stage as well as our giant red 'sad fish' (the iconic and endangered orange roughie proving beyond popular).

Over the weekend Greenpeace discussed the oceans and decreasing ika (fish) and kaimoana (seafood) with some unexpected allies - one passionate passer-by was as young as four. For three days it was great to see people getting involved, whether it was becoming a Greenpeace member, signing up to be a cyber-activist, or just discussing issues effecting our whenua. Open discussion and keeping in line with the kaupapa were the keys to a great weekend.

As well as our oceans, Greenpeace offered a wide range of material discussing land-use, corporate dairy-farming, and climate change but found dialogue was the most popular resource at the stall. We would like to congratulate the organisers on a vibrant, well-organised festival and hope to see our many new friends in 2010 (to learn more about the event see www.parihaka.com)

Aroha mai, aroha atu Love towards us, love going out from us