Chapter 38

THIRTY-EIGHT
7 November 1881
The maize stood six inches tall, bending in the wind, leaves rustling. The tactically trained troops pulled each plant up, left it lying, dying under the sun. These military men rode their horses through the gardens, hooves kicking up the ground. They trampled through orderly kumara beds, smashing the forming fruit to pulp. Armed men threw ropes over taro plants and hauled them from the nurturing ground, leaving them to waste away. Men of war rode their horses over the plants until they were pulverised, inedible. Everywhere, once flourishing plants lay, laterals exposed, gasping in the air.
The troops rounded up the stock. Distressed calves cried for their mothers. Cows cried in reply. Horses neighed, the whites of their eyes showing, hooves pounding as they ran in circles within temporary enclosures. Pigs trampled in makeshift yards. Squealing. Running from one side of the roughly hewn pens to the other. Gun shots rang out above the screeching of terrified animals.
Then silence. Deathly silence.
Still the people watched impassively.
The constabulary’s final targets innocently waited.
Spoils of war.
Women and girls.
The men took them, screaming. These were the girls who skipped when Colonel Messenger rode in. These were the girls who offered
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the constabulary bread. Now their screams filled the air as the soldiers raped them. Their loved ones cried quiet sorrow-filled sobs.
Venereal disease was the gift these men left the once clean settlement.
18 November 1881
Bryce reported that the settlement seemed less packed, but those that were left continued to gather where Tohu and Te Whiti had been arrested. To break their spirits further, Bryce had the few remaining men indiscriminately arrested. He paraded them in the hope that their families would identify them. No child would betray his or her father and no woman her husband.
20 November 1881
One thousand four hundred and forty three people had left Parihaka, unwillingly. Te Whiti’s cottage stood amid the ruin.
“Destroy that!” Bryce unequivocally ordered.
The troops looped ropes over jutting barge boards and ordered their horses to pull. Snorting, the horses leaned into the wind, digging the hooves into the ground. The timber cracked and rasped as if being beaten by a storm, then with the sound of something screaming they came away. Once broken, the rest was easy. They pulled walls out and timber lay in scattered, broken bits.
“Now we’ve taken away its power,” Bryce victoriously declared, stroking his beard. A satisfied smile settled on his face.
22 November 1881
Twenty two hundred people had passed through Bryce’s hands and unceremoniously dispersed to areas now dominated by Pākehā. Over seven hundred remained. The government sent the men and youth to the South Island. Their women faithfully followed, hoping to ease their hardship. Instead, many died as impoverished exiles.
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Bryce had completed his work. He imposed passes. Only the constabulary or co-operative chiefs could sign them. Those without passes could never return home.
He returned to Wellington to face an irate governor who reminded him he had never agreed to the march on Parihaka.
Nevertheless, the occupation remained in place with Colonel Messenger in charge for ten years.
Those without a pass wandered the plains and lived in makeshift huts in the bush. They were outcasts, like Jews wandering the desert.
Governmental representatives showed Tohu and Te Whiti the wonders of European technology: the Kaiapoi Woollen Mill and the Christchurch railway workshops. When they asked Te Whiti if he was impressed, Te Whiti replied that it appeared to be useful technology. It was a shame that Pākehā could not see that they also had useful skills and knowledge.
“If we shared all that we know, this could be a great society.”
They wanted to go back to Parihaka, back to their homes, where their people waited.
In 1882, a comet that looked like a feather appeared in the sky. It almost touched Mount Taranaki and gave the people hope.
They named the comet Orongomai.

Comments

What a beautifully written chapter.  It draws the reader right into that heartless, bewildering world and is a poignant reminder of a time we should never forget. Good luck with this wonderful book!

Thank you Gabrielle. I appreciate the feedback.