• New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media during a conference in Christchurch. (Getty Images)
Some Maori leaders are recalling colonial atrocities as they reject Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's response to the mosque massacre
21 Mar 2019 - 9:56 AM  UPDATED 21 Mar 2019 - 9:56 AM

Some Maori leaders are recalling ancient colonial atrocities as they reject Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's "this is not us" response to the killing of 50 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch.

It has been widely adopted as a tagline by New Zealanders horrified by the mosque massacres but Maori are sending out another message: this wasn't the first time.

Ngati Rangi leader Che Wilson recalled the invasion and destruction by Crown troops of the Parihaka settlement in Taranaki in 1881.

"They were all promoting peace, they were praying - the Crown wanted their land and destroyed their lives," he told Radio New Zealand.

"The fact that we are saying 'this is not us' is denying the fact that it has happened in our nation before."

Waikato University associate professor Tom Roa said Crown troops set fire to a whare karakia (church) in Rangiaowhia in 1864 during morning prayer, incinerating those inside.

"We have this story about an eight-year-old boy who ran out of the burning whare. He was shot dead."

Prof Roa said New Zealanders were responding to the mosque killings in the right way.

"But it causes an itch with statements like 'this is our darkest day'."

Maori Council executive director Matthew Tutaki said there was racism within New Zealand communities.

"I don't want to see the opportunity pass us by that we don't have an honest conversation about the fact that racism is alive and kicking."

AAP