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By 1881, the Crowns concern with Parihaka has reached new heights. Many of the strongest and fittest of Parihaka men were in Prison while Parihaka continued to flourish, so on 5 November 1881 more than 1,500 Crown troops, led by the Native Minister, invaded the occupied the pā in order to dismantle the community. No resistance was offered. The experience of the Paahuatanga (sacking) is captured by the following whakataukitanga korero:
I tenei rangi ka opehia noatia te kopae heki i raro i te katua, kahore he kai pipipi, kahore he kai kokoko
Today we will be bundled together like eggs under the parent, without food and sustenance.
Over the following days some 1,600 men, women and children not originally from Parihaka, were also forcibly expelled from the settlement and made to return to their native homes. Houses and cultivations in the vicinity were systematically destroyed, and stock was driven away or killed. Looting also occurred during the occupation. Taranaki Mäori assert that women were raped and otherwise molested by the soldiers. Special legislation was subsequently passed to restrict Mäori gatherings. Throughout this period restrictions were also placed on Mäori movement. Entry into Parihaka was regulated by a pass system.
During the raid, six people were imprisoned and Te Whiti and Tohu were charged for sedition and held until 1883. Their trials were postponed and ultimately special legislation was passed to provide for their imprisonment without trial. This legislation also indemnified those who, in the action taken to “preserve the peace”, might have exceeded their legal powers.
Some 5,000 acres of the promised reserve at Parihaka were taken by the Crown as compensation for the costs of “suppressing the…Parihaka sedition”.
The invasion of Parihaka caused much more than the destruction of physical property but caused considerable emotional and physical personal harm. This experience is aptly captured by Te Whiti o Rongomai’s statement to his people on his return from incarceration in 1883 when he saw many light skinned children playing on the marae.