Agreement to pardon Rua Kēnana

The uri of Rua Kēnana remain stigmatized by the convictions of their tūpuna and still feel the hardships caused by Crown troops.

Published: Rāmere, 22 Mahuru, 2017 | Friday, 22 September 2017

The Crown has signed an historic agreement with the whānau of Rua Kēnana that will ultimately see the Tūhoe prophet pardoned for wrongful convictions.

In 1916, Rua Kēnana was imprisoned for resisting arrest after troops stormed his Te Urewera settlement.

His descendants, Ngā Toenga o ngā Tamariki a Iharaira and the Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell signed the agreement in Maungapōhatu this month.

“Whānau recall how their koroua spent his days living in a cold dark room because of the persecution he suffered,” Minister Flavell says.

“This is still their lived experience, not some historical fact from the past and it still weighs heavily on them”.

The agreement includes the intention to introduce legislation that includes a statutory pardon to Rua Kēnana. As well as the following:

  • A summary of the circumstances around the 1916 invasion of Maungapōhatu
  • Crown acknowledgements to the descendent of Rua Kēnana and the Iharaira Faith
  • A Crown apology to the descendants of Rua Kēnana and Ngā Toenga o ngā Tamariki a Iharaira
  • A pardon to Rua Kēnana for the conviction he sustained for moral resistance to arrest
  • A declaration to restore the character, mana and reputation of Rua Kēnana, his uri and Ngā Toenga o ngā Tamariki a Iharaira.

Minister Flavell says it is the right thing to do. 

“There is overwhelming weight of research and analysis supporting this pardon based on a history thoroughly considered by the Urewera Waitangi Tribunal inquiry”.

The Tribunal found that Rua and the community have borne a lasting stigma because of the Crown’s treatment, and the final form of this stigma was the guilty verdict against Rua for his moral resistance.

In Aotearoa to date there have only been three previous statutory pardons arising from Crown Māori relations.

In 1988, the Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Act provided a statutory pardon for all persons

of Ngāti Awa descent who were arrested, tried and labelled as rebels. This included three Ngāti Awa men convicted for the murder of missionary Reverend Carl Volkner.

In 2013, Mokomoko received statutory recognition of a previous Royal Prerogative of Mercy pardon for his involvement in the murder of missionary Reverend Carl Volkner.  He had received the Royal Prerogative of Mercy pardon in 1992, but his whānau sought a mechanism to restore his character, mana and reputation.

In 2014, Kereopa Te Rau received a statutory pardon for his role in the murder of Carl Volkner through the Ngāti Rangiwewehi claims settlement.