Some reflections about Waitangi, Christians, and bi-culturalism
- A key background to the Treaty of Waitangi was the evangelical Christian humanitarian movement in Britain, which was concerned about the negative impact of western colonisation on indigenous peoples around the world. Some evangelical leaders persuaded the British Government to annex New Zealand – by way of a treaty – so as to regulate the colonisation of New Zealand and prevent its worst effects.
- A crucial factor in many Māori chiefs accepting the Treaty was the widespread Māori acceptance of Christianity in the preceding decade, and Māori trust in the missionaries.
- As colonial settlement increased, so did colonists’ hunger for Māori land. Tragically, by the 1860s, this resulted in war, loss of life, land confiscations, and much unjust legislation. These injustices cast a long shadow, and also adversely affected Māori Christianity.
- As Christians, we can recognise the broad biblical principles that lie behind the Waitangi Tribunal claim processes: respect, justice, apology, forgiveness, redress.
- As Christians, whether Māori, Pākeha, or another culture, we recognise and affirm the God-given worth and dignity of everyone, and embrace God’s call to us all to be agents of reconciliation.
- We also pray for reconciliation, and for the nation’s spiritual healing.