South Taranaki mayor Phil Nixon says he is delighted with the news the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust in Taranaki has received money from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little have announced the trust will receive up to $14 million for a new visitor centre and other improvements at the historic settlement.
Mayor Nixon said the money will help the community rebuild.
"The story of Parihaka is one which everyone needs to learn and understand, and we welcome this investment from Government to assist in rebuilding the once thriving community."
The money will create jobs as well as help educate people, said Jones.
"The Provincial Growth Fund investment will be used to improve infrastructure, create up to 130 jobs and provide a visitor centre to house traditional and modern tāonga to educate visitors about the history of Parihaka," Jones said.
The settlement of Parihaka was established in 1866 for iwi Māori disenfranchised from their whenua.
Led by Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti-o-Rongomai, the people used peaceful resistance to challenge the validity of land confiscation and forced sales by the settler government.
On November 5, 1881, Parihaka was the location of one of the most brutal events in New Zealand's past. Government troops marched into Parihaka and took control of the settlement.
On that day, 1600 Parihaka inhabitants were expelled and dispersed throughout Taranaki without food or shelter while another 600 residents were issued with government passes to control their movement.
Government soldiers destroyed most of the buildings at Parihaka. Te Whiti and Tohu were arrested, charged with sedition and held for 16 months without trial for saying the land belonged to them.
Nixon says the investment will ensure the story of Parihaka is not forgotten.
"This investment from the Minister of Regional Economic Development Shane Jones builds on the reconciliation agreement signed in 2017 and reflects a shared commitment from the Crown and the local community to ensure the history is preserved and Parihaka's story is told by their people."
Jones said the violent invasion of Parihaka has caused generations of grief for the whanau of Parihaka.
"When the Crown apologised in 2017 for this shocking episode in our history, its sincerest hope was that Parihaka and the Crown could acknowledge their shared past, move beyond it, and begin to work together to fulfil the vision of peaceful co-existence that Tohu and Te Whiti described.
"It is now our hope that this investment will go some way towards achieving this vision. Parihaka remains a vital symbol of non-violent action and our shared heritage. All New Zealanders should know its story and this project will help tell that story."
That story will be told along with other important Taranaki stories, says Nixon.
"Work is being undertaken to develop a Taranaki story with support from Government to build an integrated historical tourism journey which will include Parihaka, Tawhiti Museum, the Taranaki Cathedral, the National Park and potentially other places as further funding becomes available."
The funding will help preserve the history of Parihaka, said Mr Little.
"This funding will make the story of Parihaka accessible to more New Zealanders, and help continue the journey towards a better understanding of our history."
Infrastructure improvements will include a new visitor centre, a new bridge, car park and a large space for wānanga, conferences, workshops and tour groups. New walking access through the wider papakāinga will provide a safer experience with minimal disruption to residents.
The visitor facility will house taonga and an exhibition of the Parihaka story, told by the people of Parihaka. Retail space and a café will also be built.
"This investment offers residents opportunities for the eventual restoration of the Parihaka community's economic, cultural and social wellbeing," Jones said.
Nixon said the investment is timely as it comes at a time the region is looking to support the local construction sector.
He says for the whanau of Parihaka it has been a long time waiting, however.
"I am delighted for the people of Parihaka as they have waited a long time for this to happen.