Tūhoe leader Rua Kēnana receives long-awaited pardon

Tūhoe prophet and pacifist Rua Kēnana has been formally pardoned and the Crown has apologised for its treatment of his people.

Early in the 20th century, Kēnana led a village of about 1000 people at Maungapōhatu. In 1916, police turned up to shut it down - two people lost their lives in the violence, and Kēnana was jailed for resisting arrest.

Other charges against him were thrown out, and the invasion was later deemed illegal.

On Wednesday nearly 200 of his descendants were at Parliament for the Rua Kēnana Pardon Bill's third reading, RNZ reports. The Bill will get royal assent on Saturday. 

"We are here because a generation of descendants of Rua Kēnana fought long and hard to have him recognised in a way that upholds his mana," said Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta, "but also the woeful way in which the Crown had treated him and the wrongful arrest that had occurred as a result."

Atamira Tumara-Nuku, a descendant of some of the residents of Maungapōhatu, told The Hui recently the trauma of 1916 has been handed down the generations. Sixteen years ago, when she was just 14, she spoke of the impacts of the invasion on the families at the Waitangi Tribunal.

"The things that happened to our kuia - the hurt and the pain and the suffering that was caused not just to them 100 years ago. But how it was handed down to us, and the stigma associated with it."

She hopes the pardon will revitalise her people.

"My challenge is that this statutory pardon for my tipuna koroua (elders) is not just left on a piece of paper, on a shelf somewhere. But it's actually meaningful, real and restorative to our people."