Waitangi Day

Haere mai ra, haere mai ra

Haere mai ra i te runga i te kaupapa o te ra nei

Haere mai ra x3

No te Tai Tokerau

No te Tai Tonga

No te Tai Rawhiti

No te Tai Haua Uru e

Kei te tatari matou me Ihu

Haere Mai

Homai te Wairua x 2

Wairua Tapu e x 2

Homai te Wairtrua ki a matou

Homai te Wairua

Ihu, Ihu, haere mai, haere mai

Karanga mai, karanga mai, karanga mai rae x 2




Welcome, welcome, welcome to the topic of the day

Welcome to those from the North, from the south

From the east, from the west

We are waiting for Jesus


Send your Spirit

Your Holy Spirit

Send your Spirit to us

Jesus come

Call to us.


Next Tuesday is the commemoration of the forming of this country, through the Treaty of Waitangi, a treaty made between the Crown and the indigenous Maori people.


Rather than it being a day of celebration as it should be – like the US Independence Day for example- it has been hijacked into a day of dissension and separation and it is claimed in some quarters to be a day of mourning. So, most NZers as a result ignore the day completely or are embarrassed about it.

When I was a young fellow (1970), a book came out called Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

It was about the relationship between the native North Americans and the colonialists, and the litany of broken treaties – broken by the colonialists. Brown detailed many of the atrocities the Native Americans suffered during the genocide against them and pointed out the relatively few moments when whites attempted to live peacefully with them.

And I thought then, how lucky we are that that situation is not the case in NZ. 

But that was before I learned the truth.  The sad saga of broken treaty promises, broken by the colonialists, exists here too.  And this was highlighted for me at about that time by the Raglan Golf Course protest, where Maori land taken for a wartime airstrip was never returned to its owners but given to the golf club.

But more recently, it has come into stark focus at the Baptist Hui in Dunedin and in New Plymouth, looking at the watershed injustice at Parihaka, in the Taranaki.

If you don’t know the story: briefly, in the 1860s – 1880s legislation was passed which confiscated land in Taranaki including 800,000 hectares at Parihaka.  When chiefs Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi organized a peaceful protest against the land grab, the Government sent in 1589 troops and arrested the 636 men at the village, transporting them to various prison including Dunedin where they were enforced hard labour and the troops raped the women and razed the village.

I do not want to relate the appalling history of other treaty breaches through legislation throughout the country over the past 170 years and I have hope that some righting of past wrongs can be made. 

I want to take our eyes from those acts of injustice and focus on the treaty itself.

A treaty is a contractual agreement between two states.[1]  So by calling it a treaty, the British acknowledged that Maori were sovereign here before the colonialists came.

Remember it was the missionaries here and the mission agencies in England that pushed for a treaty to protect Maori, and the treaty here was a milestone in the way the British dealt with indigenous people.  We Pakeha are here because of agreement rather than military conquest.


The significance of the treaty lay in the unique relationship proposed between Maori and the Crown-a relationship based on Crown obligations to protect rangitiratanga rights in exchange for Crown rights to occupancy and governance (Kawharu)[2]

Treaties are mentioned in the Bible


1 Kings 5:7 When Hiram heard the words of Solomon, he rejoiced greatly, and said, “Blessed be the Lord today, who has given to David a wise son to be over this great people.” Hiram sent word to Solomon, “I have heard the message that you have sent to me; I will fulfill all your needs in the matter of cedar and cypress timber. And you shall meet my needs by providing food for my household.” 10 So Hiram supplied Solomon’s every need for timber of cedar and cypress. 11 Solomon in turn gave Hiram twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, and twenty cors of fine oil. Solomon gave this to Hiram year by year. 12 So the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him. There was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and the two of them made a treaty.

In the case of the Waitangi Treaty, it was similarly seen initially as a means of mutual benefit.  Remember at that time the Maori had their own fleet of ships trading with the colonies in Australia. They were astute businessmen. Kaikohe, where I worked in the 1980s, was known at that time as the market garden of the north, exporting fresh vegetables.

The Bible tells that treaties are to be honoured. Our NZ treaty was seen as one of mutual benefit, but even treaties made under fraudulent terms are to be honoured. I am not going there as to whether the cry “The Treaty is a Fraud” is valid – but it seems to me that we equate more to the Gibeonites than the Israelites in the story I am about to relate.


When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and entered into the Promised Land, they wiped out all tribes before them. The Gibeonites who were living in that area made a treaty with Israel claiming that they were not near neighbours. They lied about where they lived so that they would not be wiped out in an act of genocide. Even when their fraud was discovered, and the Israelites wanted to deal harshly with them, God told them to honour the treaty made.


Joshua 9:19 But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we must not touch them. 20 This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that wrath may not come upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.” 21 The leaders said to them, “Let them live.”


They recognised that when treaties are dishonoured, God is not happy and there is a cost.


Listen to the lament in Isaiah 33

7     Listen! the valiant cry in the streets;

the envoys of peace weep bitterly.

8     The highways are deserted,

travelers have quit the road.

The treaty is broken,

its oaths are despised,

its obligation is disregarded.

9     The land mourns and languishes;

Lebanon is confounded and withers away;

Sharon is like a desert;

and Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves.

The cost of broken treaties is to the land, the cost is to the people. The cost is the loss of peace and prosperity.

To bring it back to this Treaty:

For better or for worse, the Treaty principles of partnership, protection, and participation provide a blueprint that shapes the conduct and mutual expectations of Maori and Pakeha. [3]


Back in 2000, Patricia Grace, a NZ writer presented a challenge for us all:

“I think we need to understand the Treaty and embrace it, not be afraid of it…We need to be educated about our true history”[4]


In the past 18 years since that was written, what has changed? 


Mark Grace (unrelated) wrote in the NZ Baptist magazine in 2010 wrote: As gospel people, the treaty is part of our history, it is part of our legacy and its expression today is a part of our responsibility. The gospel calls us to be a reconciling people…When we seek to explore what it means to uphold and express the values of the Waitangi covenant as the people of God, it leads us towards a deeper experience of what it means to be a Christian and a richer experience of what it means to be a Kiwi”[5]


In the last 8 years, what has changed?


To quote Murray Rae, lecturer at Otago University, in his chapter in the book Mana Maori and Christianity:


It is a sign of maturity in any generation to acknowledge the need to attend to multiple voices: the voice of the poor as well as the voice of the wealthy, the voices of those who pioneered change and of those who suffered its adverse effects, and in New Zealand, the voices of the tangata whenua as well as those of the tauiwi. It is likely that more of the truth will emerge as the varied stories of history’s cast are heard together and allowed to shape the present generation’s collective sense of where it has come from and where it should now be heading.”[6]


That is the conversation we have started here at Eastside, and that the Baptist Union has started nationwide, and it is exciting to see where it is heading.


Ano te ahua reka o te noho tahi a te teina me te tuakana i runga i te whakaaro Kotahi

How joyous it is to sit together in fellowship with common thoughts/aims

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.



[1] Riley, J. A. Hittite Literature. The Lexham Bible Dictionary.

[2] Augie Fleras & Paul Spoonley Recalling Aotearoa: indigenous politics and ethnic relations in NZ 9


[3] Fleras & Spoonley 6

[4] Robert and Joanna Consedine Healing our History 229

[5] Mark Grace “Treaty of Waitangi grew from the Gospel” NZ Baptist March 2010, 14

[6] Morrison, Paterson, Knowles & Rae Mana Maori and Christianity vii