Janet Vaughan is part of Royal Oak Baptist Church in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland.

As an elder in the leadership team at Royal Oak Baptist Church, I was interested to know more when I heard about the “Belonging in this Land” treaty education resource for us to use over May and June in small group contexts (it’s two 90-minute video/discussion sessions designed for small groups within churches).

Public conversation around the Treaty of Waitangi has been all around us this year. I wonder how Jesus asks us to position ourselves as we seek to bring gospel renewal to people and places in our local neighbourhoods?

In my own journey, my primary schooling occurred in Australia (last century!), and I have no memory of any treaty education at all in my New Zealand high school. My first real encounter with the Māori world was through Whanganui Baptist Church. During my late teens, our whole church participated in two visits to local marae. These visits were funded by Baptist Kaumatua Lionel Stewart’s decision to invest in connecting local Baptist congregations to the Māori community. The experience sowed seeds in me that, looking back, carry the sense of God’s watering and tending.

Fast forward to now, I’m working for a Māori health trust and slowly learning te reo Māori. Along this journey, I have been asking Jesus for his view on Māori and the treaty relationship and how to respond both personally and in our church community context.

In recent years at Royal Oak Baptist Church, we have been slowly exploring the treaty relationship in different ways: Waitangi Day activities around a meal, The Rapana whānau doing a series called “The Powhiri Journey”, Dave and Denise Tims leading a Sunday morning “workshop” and many of our congregation reading the book Huia Come Home by Jay Ruka.

‘Belonging in this land’ is a timely resource for us to continue our learning journey. At Royal Oak Baptist Church, we’re hosting the Belonging in this land video/discussion sessions on two Sunday evenings around dessert. We already have 45 people signed up to attend.

The Belonging in this land resource has been put together by Common Grace Aotearoa and Karuwhā Charitable Trust. It is designed as treaty education for faith communities across Aotearoa in preparation for the public discussion that will be generated by the upcoming Treaty Principles Bill that will enter parliament in June.

Here is the website for more information: treatyandbelonging.nz

Photo by Hanlala Thasneem on Unsplash

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