New Zealand Law Society - Māori Affairs Committee recommends Rua Kēnana Pardon Bill

Māori Affairs Committee recommends Rua Kēnana Pardon Bill

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The Māori Affairs Committee has reported on the Te Pire kia Unuhia te Hara kai Runga i a Rua Kēnana / Rua Kēnana Pardon Bill and recommends that it be passed without amendment.

The Committee considered 60 submissions and heard oral evidence from six submitters. The submitters were overwhelmingly in support of the bill.

Rua Kēnana

Rua Kēnana was a Māori prophet, faith healer, and land rights activist who was arrested on 1916 for sedition during a raid at Maungapōhatu. In 1907 Rua formed a non-violent religious community (the Iharaira/Israelite Faith) at Maungapōhatu, the sacred maunga of Tūhoe, in the Urewera.

The bill will provide a pardon for him and a Crown acknowledgment and apology for him and his descendants. It will give effect to an agreement between the Crown and Ngā Toenga o Ngā Tamariki a Iharaira me Ngā Uri o Maungapōhatu Charitable Trust signed on 9 September 2017.

Rua Kēnana was convicted of “moral resistance” in August 1916 after a police attempt to arrest him in February 1916. The attempted arrest was for convictions from the previous year for selling liquor without a licence. Rua believed he had already been punished for these crimes and would not accompany the police. This led to charges for resisting arrest and using seditious language.

On 2 April 1916, police and 70 armed men arrived at Maungapōhatu to arrest Rua. Rua’s son, Toko Rua, and another young man, Te Maipi, were killed during an ensuing exchange of gunfire. Three residents and four police officers were wounded and thirty-one Maungapōhatu men were arrested and held for up to three days. Rua spent 18 months in prison because of his conviction.

Waitangi Tribunal

The Waitangi Tribunal concluded in its 2012 Te Urewera inquiry that the police used excessive force against the Maungapōhatu community. Te Tiriti o Waitangi was breached because the Crown did not act in a reasonable manner towards the community in its actions to arrest Rua. The arrest was also unlawful because it took place on a Sunday, a day when arrest warrants were not allowed to be issued.