Waitangi Reflection

Bruce Gilberd and Joan Fanshawe

Two examples of God’s call for justice from the Old Testament:
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke. (Isaiah 58:6, RSV)
He has told you O mortal what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8, NRSVA)

The reflection expressed the effort required to face and move past some long held but incorrect beliefs about the history of New Zealand following the Treaty.

A recently read book Becoming Pakeha, by former Bishop of Waiapu, John Bluck, covered his life long interaction with Māori, from his childhood in Nuhaka (near Mahia) to establishing trust and friendship with local tangata whenua after choosing to retire in Pakiri (near Leigh).  Much emphasis is given to the deep tie that Māori have to place, that can be traced back by whakapapa. This is not a sense of ownership so much as  a deep spiritual sense of belonging to that place, and forms a great part of the difference that can be felt when the Treaty is discussed.

For us, then, a response to the challenge in Isaiah’s message to “loose the bonds of injustice” is to recognise the importance of up to date information and commentary on the Treaty, what was really meant then, and how we need to address issues arising now. This should come from a wider source than is maybe provided in our usual media choice, or – even more suspect – forming our opinions based on what is posted on social media and talkback radio.

The double hulled canoe mentioned in the prayer below is a great metaphor to illustrate a future that can happen. As people of faith we must look to faith resources where we will find strength to be part of the fulfilment of justice: making a commitment to find ways to be in true partnership, with the best outcome for all people. 

But where does one look to find trusted sources of information?

Bruce explained some of his thinking about the original intention of the Treaty and how he’d been reading some of Ned Fletcher’s detailed book The English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi. Fletcher’s research very thoroughly examined early letters and directives from England leading up to our unique founding document.
This book (of a thousand pages) might be a bit heavy for some, but Bruce says the introduction and summary are well worth reading. It is available through the Library.

Below are links to other articles and reviews that might be of interest. Feedback on additional helpful resources is welcome. 
John Bluck’s book Becoming Pakeha is available to buy online or at Carson’s in Thames … and maybe the Library.  Joan downloaded the Kindle version and highly recommends this book: especially to those who have grown up in New Zealand, there’s much to relate to. 

Ned Fletcher talks about the research behind his book (Oct 2 2022):

David Williams, Professor of History at Auckland University  (Feb 5 2023):

Paul Temm QC: an excerpt from his 1990 book The Waitangi Tribunal: the conscience of the nation:

We conclude with a prayer, in te reo Māori and English, a karakia written by Bishop Brown Turei:

E te Kaihanga,
Nāhau mātau i tārai i Waitangi, anō he waka hourua,
whakarewangia i runga i te tūmanako; anō he waka eke noa,
whakaterengia i runga i ngā waikarekare;

Creator God,
By your hand we were fashioned together at Waitangi,
like a double-hulled canoe,
launched towards a hope-filled future;
cast together in the same vessel, traversing turbulent waters

He tia, he tia;
He ranga, he ranga,

Our backs bowed in effort, our journey continues, one paddle-stroke after another;

Whakarere iho te kakau o te hoe,
Kia tutuke ai i ngā oatitia;
te tika anō he awa nui.

Help us to strive together in unity,
that we might fulfil the oaths we have made to each other;
That justice may roll like a river,
and righteousness like an everlasting stream;

Ko Ihu Karaiti hoki tō mātau Ariki,
Te Kurahautū o tō mātau Kuratīwaka.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
The One Who Guides our Waka of Faith.


Let us all keep exploring together, encouraging each other along the way.
Grace and peace be with you.

%d bloggers like this: