This occasional weekend column called ‘Pondering:…’ is where people from within the 'Team of 40,000 Baptists' can share issues they are thinking about, in a way that opens up a topic from a particular perspective. Feel free to comment on these pieces or contribute your own pondering. Opinion pieces are the views of individuals and need to be considered within the context of the diversity of our union of Baptist churches in New Zealand. When commenting or contributing please follow our Guidelines for articles, opinion pieces and online comments.

This pondering below comes from John Davey, an Elder at Gleniti Baptist Church in Timaru, and the chairperson of the Thriving Neighbourhoods Trust that works out of the church.

I was born in Temuka in 1954 and spent my childhood years on farms at Waitohi and Upper Hook, Waimate. I studied for a B.E. (Electrical) at Canterbury University and worked for Telecom New Zealand in the 1980s designing communication projects in Dunedin and the Otago province. I then trained as a teacher and worked briefly in a primary school, for a private training provider, a high school and then for 26 years for Aoraki Polytechnic/Ara Institute of Canterbury teaching technical information technology. I am now retired.

I am married to Dale with four children and nine grandchildren. Both Dale and I undertook training at the Bible College of New Zealand (now Laidlaw College) attending Branch College classes and then at the Henderson Campus in 1984.

My interest in early New Zealand history was initially kindled by the classes I took while undergoing teacher training in 1989/90. This ‘pondering’ document began as my personal record of the reading I did in preparation for a sermon at my church on Waitangi weekend, 2023.


Ever since I attended a Māori studies class as part of my teacher training in 1989, I have been interested in what really did happen during early New Zealand history. I have taken advantage of professional development opportunities at Aoraki/Ara Polytechnic but had avoided te reo classes until recently due to a bad experience I had at teachers’ college. However I overcame some of this in 2022 by completing a basic te reo class at Te Aitarakihi marae which was an important step in my journey.

For me this is a living documentation that summarises my understanding of our history in the hope that it will form a small part in the awakening of our responsibilities regarding our partnership with Māori. The target audience is for those of Christian faith with a beginning knowledge of our history. However Christianity is unashamedly part of this discussion since whether or not you are sympathetic towards the Christian faith, Christian humanitarians in England and the early missionaries played a hugely positive part in the early mixing of Māori and Pākeha.

I decided to present my findings in the form of myths that are hopefully dispelled. In doing this I want to look beyond the politicisation of the situation, where (for example) blame is being attributed to the current Pākeha generation. Attributing and receiving blame is not on the Biblical pathway to reconciliation and peace. I believe that to get caught up in this is potentially a red herring with the possibility of blocking understanding of what the real issues are. Instead the real issue is what is God’s thinking and what is His intention for us as Māori and Pākeha together. Before we jump to any conclusions, it is important that we understand some of the detail to do with our history.

My presentation here covers a number of topics that overlap. To get a full picture, I encourage you to read the lot.

Myth 1: “New Zealand colonisation started the same as for any other country”.

The colonisation of New Zealand was planned to be very different from that of any other country colonised by England. The religious and political thinking in Britain at the time included:

1833 - Slavery Emancipation Act forced the release of existing slaves.

1834 - Child labour abolished.

1836 – Colonisation was re-thought.

Sir James Stephen (whose mentor was William Wilberforce, the leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade) was appointed under-secretary for the Colonies at the Colonial Office. He decreed that indigenous people were to be protected and the principle of racial equality maintained. Stephen had strong Biblical values that made him clear in principle and determined in will. He saw the duty of the government to “consult for the permanent interest of a society as opposed to the immediate interests of the most active and powerful of its members, and to watch over the welfare of the many rather than the present advantage of the few, and to protect those whose only property is the power of their labour against the rapacity of the rich”.[1] 

These people were involved in what was known as the Clapham Sect who were Christian humanitarians. Despite being made up of Anglican clergy and lay people, it was called a “sect” because it had no official link with the church. However it did have political influence (e.g. with slavery and child labour). This was a period of time when the Gospel, through the efforts of the Clapham Sect, was influencing English political direction in terms of protecting indigenous people in the process of colonisation (if indeed colonisation is the correct word in the process that they envisaged). The Clapham Sect were aware of what was happening in parts of Australia where Aborigines were being “shot out”.[2]

The first action that came out of this was the 1835 Declaration of Independence in the name of the Confederation of Chiefs or the United Tribes of New Zealand. “Described by (the appointed) British Resident James Busby as the "Magna Carta of New Zealand Independence", He Whakaputanga was a bold and innovative declaration of Indigenous power. Officially recognised by the United Kingdom, it signalled the emergence of Māori authority on the world stage. It was also one of the earliest assertions of Māori identity beyond separate iwi and hapū.”[3]  The Magna Carta was the forebearer of equality and human rights that we value today and yet The Declaration of Independence seems to be largely unspoken about in today in many Pākeha circles.

When it came to the Treaty of Waitangi five years later ….. “Humanitarian Christians in the Colonial Office in London gave instructions for the Treaty of Waitangi to be an equal partnership with the indigenous Māori people specifically to avoid the horrors of forced colonisation and slavery imposed on other cultures.“[4]

Myth 2: “Christianity was imposed on Māori as part of colonisation”.

The idea that the missionaries were sent to soften up the Māori for colonisation and assimilation does not fit the historical facts. The CMS (Church Mission Society), which was the main missionary society involved in New Zealand, was founded in 1799 by members of the Eclectic Society which was in turn supported by the Clapham sect (mentioned above). The CMS believed in evangelism in the native tongue which means that the ability to put a source culture slant on the gospel was reduced. In 1842 Bishop Selwyn arrived in New Zealand and surprised everyone by preaching to the locals in their own language – on the voyage out Selwyn enlisted the help of a Māori boy called Rupai (who was returning to New Zealand) to learn the Māori language which he then taught to other passengers.[5]

Sharing the gospel was a full on commitment for the first missionaries. Marsden brought three missionaries with him in 1814. It took around 20 years for real progress with acceptance of the Gospel to be made during which lives were at risk many times. The biggest issue to be overcome was the principle of utu being implemented in a manner inconsistent with the Gospel (see separate myth on the topic of utu). Many a time missionaries stood between two warring parties trying to introduce forgiveness and peace at the risk of their own lives. They were very much acting as the peacemakers mentioned in Matt. 5:9.

Māori teachers often travelled to areas before the European missionaries (often without any official status) because the message of peace, forgiveness and love had ignited a passion that they were compelled to share. European missionaries would often arrive at a location expecting to share the gospel for the first time only to find the Good News was already there!

It seems that the biggest piece of evidence against the missionaries playing an active part of colonisation is that missionaries were accused of being traitors by the government to the colonisation cause as the Treaty increasingly took a back seat. Māori trusted the missionaries to see that the Treaty would be honoured. Hone Heke was the first Māori chief to sign saying that Māori could rely on the missionaries to help them come to terms with what they were about to sign. This  implied that the missionaries were to be trusted to be on the side of Māori.[6] Wakefield called Bishop Selwyn an unwise man for joining Wakefield’s foe, the anti-colonising Church missionary society.[7]

It is interesting to note that Māori often talked about two books - the Bible and the Te Tiriti o Waitangi. They saw God as being involved in the Treaty and they saw the Treaty as having very high status much like the Old Testament covenants. Māori felt that they could “stand with confidence between the two books”.[8] This view came about since Māori saw the treaty as a covenant between themselves and the Queen who was the head of the Church of England and the state.[9]

Myth 3: “The Māori signing the Treaty were just a bunch of savages”.

A number of points can be made regarding this myth:

1.   More than 30 years before the Treaty (from about 1806), Marsden hosted 30 or so Māori at a time on his farm at Parramatta, Sydney for training. This had a two way outcome in that Marsden also learned more about the Māori language and customs and Māori returned to Aotearoa to share what they had learned.[10]

2.   A significant number of Māori had language skills way beyond the whalers in the early days. Such Māori could sign their name with a proud flourish when many of  the whalers could only place a mark on paper.

3.   In 1814 Samuel Marsden wrote, “I consider New Zealand as the Great Emporium of the South Sea Islands, inhabited by a numerous race of “very intelligent men…..”[11]  He continues by saying how he hoped to erect the stand of Christ’s kingdom there. Emporium had the implication, in the context of the times, that Māori would take a major part in trade.[12] Another statement from Marsden says “The natives of New Zealand are far advanced in civilization, and apparently prepared for receiving the knowledge of Christianity more than any savage nations I have seen. Their habits of industry are very strong; and their thirst for knowledge great, they only want the means.

The more I see of these people, the more I am pleased with, and astonished at their moral ideas, and characters. They appear like a superior race of men”.

4.   From 1814 the early missionaries trained many Māori in reading, writing (both English and Māori), farming, trading, etc.

5.   Māori traded potatoes and pigs with the whalers from the early 1800s.

6.   Māori in the Waikato and other areas were trading their produce with Auckland and Australia from the 1820s.[13]  In 1858 in the Auckland Province, 36 of the 51 vessels registered were licensed to Māori (i.e. over 70%).[14]

The pictorial and written image some of us have in our minds from school in the 20th century was that the Māori at the time of signing the Treaty were all basically a bunch of savages. The reality is that many tribes became involved with a trading economy with the Pākeha while, by choice, retaining their iwi (tribe), hapū (wider family) and whānau (immediate extended family structure). They adapted to the new environment well but retained their culture. Of course what is pictured here was not universal but a large portion of Māori had left their war-like lifestyle behind them by this time. The presentation of them being savages as depicted in the newspapers of the time suited the narrative of colonisation and is quite derogatory. To put this into context, there does not appear to be much difference in behaviour between Māori and those involved in the Anglo-Scottish wars! It is very easy to point the finger!

The idea that Māori were trading in the early days (even before 1840) is so radically different to the understanding many older people have been given from the education system, that the following quotes are provided to support history. It is accepted that some of these quotes are from the 1840s, however the development of the land described did not happen overnight.  

1.    This quote is about Waikato by Lady Mary Martin, wife of retired Chief Justice, William Martin:

 “Our path lay across a wide plain, and our eyes were gladdened on all sides by sights of peaceful industry. For miles we saw one great wheat field …. Carts were driven to and from the mill by their native owners, women sat under trees sewing flour bags and babies swarmed around…. We little dreamed that in then years the peaceful industry of the whole district would cease and the land become a desert through our unhappy war”.[15]

2.    A quote from Tamihana Tarapipi Te Waharoa, a Waikato chief who was a tireless worker and advocate for the advancement of Māori in terms of legal, political and social structures:

”During the 1840s Tamihana, as well as taking a lead in tribal affairs, was teaching at the Te Tapiri school. He helped expand the farming capabilities of the Ngāti Hauā people who prospered through trading surplus produce with settlers in Auckland. In 1846 he established another Christian pā at Peria, near Matamata. The pā was named after Berea, a town in New testament times whose occupants were well known for searching the scriptures to determine the truth of a matter. It had a flour mill, a school house and boarding house for boys and girls, a large meeting house in the centre and its own post office, indicating the importance of communications between the tribes and with the government and others.” [16]

3.    To show that this was not just a North Island thing:

“By the 1830s, Ngāi Tahu had built up a thriving industry supplying whaling ships with provisions such as pigs, potatoes and wheat. Later, shore stations were established from 1835 under the authority of local Ngāi Tahu chiefs.”[17]

4.    “By the 1850s, a number of Māori farming enterprises were flourishing. The Waikato tribes were trading their fruit, vegetables and grains. The Ngati Raukawa were successfully growing fruit, vegetables and wheat and milking cows around Otaki. Māori at Motueka had 1000 acres in wheat and 600 in other produce. At Waitara, Wiremu Kingi's people were reported to be wealthy in terms of cash, with a 150 horses, 300 head of cattle, and ploughs and harrows and sailing boats to transport their produce for sale. In many places, Māori were more successful farmers than the settlers, with their nuclear families, because of readily available tribal labour which worked on a subsistence basis. This didn't endear them to the Pakeha.”[18]

However two Acts of Parliament saw the end of this progressive productivity:

1.    The Suppression of Rebellion Act under which Māori fighting for their land could be arrested and detained indefinitely without trial.

2.    The New Zealand Settlements Act which authorised land confiscation.[19]

Myth 4: “The Treaty cannot be enforced since there are two different versions”.

Lieutenant Governor William Hobson created the first draft of the Treaty with the help of his secretary and some of the missionaries. British Resident James Busby  added improvements then Henry Williams (missionary) and his son Edward translated it into te reo Māori.[20][21]

To address the myth:

“In international law where there is any ambiguity:

>> The contra proferentem [22] principle applies, which means that a decision is made against the party that drafts the document, and

>> the indigenous language text takes preference.

In oral cultures such as Māori, verbal agreements take preference over what is written.”[23]

Myth 5: “Māori were given a fair price for their land”.

So the “great New Zealand experiment” was under way. But within 10 years major issues were being experienced:

1.   Although European style farming was beginning to become common for Māori in some areas, many Māori still relied heavily on gathering food from a wide area. This land was protected by the Treaty in the same way as farmland as we know it. However in England, the Clapham Sect suffered from a loss of political influence that resulted in acceptance of what was called the “Waste Lands Report”. This report rejected that these lands were owned by the Māori and recommended that the Crown take steps to assert ownership. The issue here is that Māori world view of land ownership was very different from that of the European. There was no concept of absolute ownership of land. Different rights (e.g. catching birds or fish, growing crops, etc) were allocated and then re-negotiated between different whānau and hapū sometimes with regard to the same piece of land.[24] Hence the adoption of the Waste Lands Report was effectively the end of what was often called “The New Zealand Experiment”.

2.   The theories of Darwin were beginning to take effect. Darwin described inferior and superior races in his works. Statements of “Liberation of the settlers” and “extermination of the Māori”[25][26] crept into the minds and newspapers of the colony. This of course was totally in opposition to what the Clapham Sect and the thinking behind the Treaty expected.

3.   We cannot understand properly what happened regarding acquisition of land without understanding the New Zealand Company 1839-1858 [27] (NZC). From the beginning to the end many of the dealings of the NZC were troubled:

i.     The transactions for much of the land obtained before the Treaty was deemed to to be invalid which left settlers without anywhere to establish themselves.

ii.    Many Māori early on were overly keen to obtain muskets and horses and hence overvalued what they were receiving as payment.

iii.  Many NZC agents had inadequate Māori language skills which resulted in Māori not properly understanding the extent of the land they were selling.

iv.  The NZC were overselling the opportunities which resulted in settlers arriving on the land even before the Māori owners had been identified and negotiations begun.[28]

v.    When values were set the amount per acre was often below the minimum set by the Governor.

vi.  On occasions specific Māori claimed to be the owners of land when they weren’t. An example of correspondence about an example of this is below:

“Only the men of Ngamotu and Puketapu received Wakefield’s payment and they had no right to Waitara. .. Friend Governor, do you not love your land – England, the land of your fathers – as we love our land at Waitara? Friend Governor, be kind to the Māori people.”  - Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake to Governor FitzRoy, 1844.[29]

vii. Often NZC surveyors went straight through Māori homes, gardens and cemeteries striking pegs into the ground. Māori quietly went about removing the pegs.[30]

The New Zealand Company had lobbied to dismiss the Treaty of Waitangi "as a device for the amusing naked savages and inducing them to behave in a friendly manner until British power should be permanently in these lands."[31] This is despite what part of “Article the second" says:

"Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession...."[32]

Eventually the NZC ended up broke and reneged on loan repayments to the Government which resulted in the company surrendering its charter as a colonising company. Many landlords in England bought land for speculation had never turned up on site. The NZC brought out to New Zealand many support workers who never ended up with a job because of this.[33]

Chiefs were often persuaded to accept very low prices in return for government promises of schools, hospitals, and generous land reserves. These promises were at best only partially fulfilled leading to disappointment and appeals.[34]

The missionary view that the Māori had equal rights before God and a choice to do what they wanted to with their land was now virtually dismissed.

Myth 6: “Confiscation of Māori land did not happen”.

We have seen that the demand for land for the settlers was so great that any regard for the principles of the Treaty had been discarded. The persistent perception was that Māori were in their dying throes so what was happening did not really matter. The Suppression of Rebellion Act [35] meant that Māori who fought for their land were regarded as rebels and arrested to be retained indefinitely without trial. Some Māori from Taranaki were sent to prisons in Dunedin, Hokitika, Lyttelton and Ripapa Island (offshore from Lyttelton) away from their iwi, hapū and whānau.[36] Basically all of Taranaki except for uninhabited bush land and the fertile lands of Waikato was confiscated. Altogether the tribes of Waikato and Taranaki and other areas associated with the “rebellion” were punished by the confiscation of around 3.25 million acres of the most desirable land.

The treaty was soon forgotten, lost, nibbled at by rats and saved from a fire. In 1877 it was undermined in the courts when a high court judge declared it “a simple nullity” because ‘the savages’ who signed it could never have understood what they were doing.”[37]

Some of the land sold but under pressure. Below is an example of the resistance to this that happened in Waitara:

“I will not agree to our sleeping place being sold – I mean Waitara here – for this bed belongs to the whole of us…. All I have to say to you is that none of this land will be given to you, never, never not til I die. You should remember that Maoris and Pakehas are living quietly upon their pieces of land and therefore do not you disturb them”. - Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake to Governor Gore Browne, 25 April 1859.[38]

The invasion of Parihaka (Eastern Taranaki) was the culmination of pacifist action by unarmed Māori who ploughed confiscated land occupied by settlers all over Taranaki.[39] These Māori were “always very ‘civil and dignified’, explaining to the frustrated farmers, ‘Te Whiti is not ploughing the land, he is only ploughing the belly of the Government’ ”.[40]

To quote two parts of the Parihaka Reconciliation Bill:

“A few short years after guaranteeing to Māori the undisturbed possession of any lands they wished to retain, the Crown began to systematically dispossess the tangata whenua of their Taranaki lands. By purchase deed, force of arms, confiscation and statute, the Crown took the rich lands of Taranaki and left its people impoverished, demoralised, and vilified. The Crown reiterates the apologies it has made to iwi of Taranaki for its many failures to uphold the principles of partnership and good faith that the Treaty of Waitangi embodies, and for the immense harm those actions have caused to generations of Māori in Taranaki.”

“The Crown acknowledges that it utterly failed to recognise or respect the vision of self-determination and partnership that Parihaka represented. The Crown responded to peace with tyranny, to unity with division, and to autonomy with oppression.” [41]

Myth 7: “Māori indiscriminately took settler’s lives”

Of course one cannot say this never happened! However as a general statement it needs to be challenged. There were some settler lives lost when as a result of the denigration of the Treaty, after multiple attempts to submit the injustice of land being taken as a result of the Wastelands declaration, many peaceful demonstrations (e.g. the removal of survey pegs and the ploughing of ground) and finally the appearance of British troops on site. Māori were backed against the wall! The situation they were in is described in the referenced NZ Herald article.[42]

The other side of the coin is seldom spoken about. When the exuberant Wakefield landed too many settlers in Wellington (and other places) when land deals had not even been settled, Māori helped build huts and fed the settlers who otherwise probably would have died. [43] Māori repeatedly peacefully removed survey pegs of lines that went through their vegetable gardens before any negotiation had even begun. The number of settlers with nothing to do was not helped by absentee speculators as detailed in this quote:

“Somewhat surprisingly, no attempt has been made to establish a profile of the ‘colonists’ or ‘capitalists,’ that is, those who purchased land in the various settlements. It was unfortunately the case that a large number of the original land purchasers proved to be absentee speculators, the New Zealand Company selling sections to all who would buy irrespective of whether they intended to settle in New Zealand or not.” [44]

We hear about killings but not the examples of Māori looking after the welfare of settlers.

Myth 8: “Mismanagement of land deals was only a North Island issue”

The largest of the Crown’s deals with Ngāi Tahu was for The Canterbury Purchase (Kemp’s Deed). This deal signed on 12 June, 1848 for 13,551,400 acres for £2,000. The deal included:

1.    An undertaking that adequate reserves would be set aside for present and future wants.

2.    The provision of schools and hospitals.

3.    A promise that all of their mahinga kai areas would be set aside for them.[45]

The Crown actually set aside 6,359 acres (an average of 10 acres per person when  a minimum per person for European subsistence was estimated to be 50 acres [46]). Much of this land was unsuitable for cultivation. One of the aims in doing this was to prevent Māori from being large land proprietors (i.e. run holders). A ploy that was used a number of times was to refuse to specify the reserve land and school/hospital details at the time of signing, then fail to live up to the purposefully general promises made. Reserves were allocated that were often less than that promised - Ngāi Tahu ended up with only 69% of the reserves that were promised in 1849.[47] To make ends meet, Māori often leased the best of their land to Pākeha which only compounded the situation (they did not have enough land to survive let alone trade and make headway). Māori were told that any appeals would have to be made through Governor Grey but that the prices and reserves were set by the Government anyway. They were told that if they did not sign, others would be found that would. There was no real choice.

The outcome of this of course was poverty. Māori expectation before this was to partake of the benefits of farming and trading alongside of the Pākeha. Māori did not sit back and accept this – they produced submissions which were ignored by Government. There were some court cases but generally Māori did not have the financial resources to fund this. It is noted that not all Pākeha who were in positions of power were unsympathetic to the situation. For example Walter Mantell who implemented deals with Ngāi Tahu delivering substandard reserves later realized the error of his ways and campaigned strongly in an effort to have the situation rectified. This was to no avail so he eventually quit his Cabinet position in frustration.[48][49]

James West Stack headed up the Anglican Māori Mission for the diocese of Christchurch in 1862. He was aware of the extreme poverty of South Island Māori and was doing all he could to act on behalf of those suffering. Stack believed that the “bitter sense of betrayal over the loss of land had ‘blighted all our work’”.[50]

A close to home example for the writer was in 1848 at Arowhenua (near Te Umu Kaha, Temuka), Māori were successfully cultivating wheat, potatoes, pumpkins, marrows and corn and were determined to expand into grazing sheep and cattle.[51] Te Maiharoa was one of the Arowhenua farmers who in 1877 was frustrated at the small reserves being allocated so he took, as a protest, about 100 people up to Thomas Campbell’s leasehold at Omarama. Eventually 12 armed constables and local re-enforcements removed him and his followers.[52][53]

Myth 9: “Māori have benefited from the process of colonisation”

Firstly we need to look at the dictionary definition of colonisation. A definition can be as simple as“migration to and settlement in an inhabited or uninhabited area”. Where the land is already inhabited, the process normally is “subjugation of a people or area especially as an extension of state power” or “the act or practice of appropriating something that one does not own or have a right to”.[54] Another definition is “the act or process of sending people to live in and govern another country.[55]

Colonisation did not really begin in earnest until a little time after 1840 when the conditions of the Treaty were denigrated. Prior to this, Māori were heavily engaged in trade with each other, local Pākeha and Sydney (1820s). The process of engaging in trade gave Māori the ability to decide for themselves what aspects of the European culture they would utilize under their own terms.[56] On the other hand, colonisation removed from Māori the right to use their own land and hence the power to generate trade, allocated to them insufficient smaller and poorer packages of land to live on and ultimately caused urban drift. They were left with access to only the aspects of European culture that the colonisers allowed because of imposed poverty. Choice was gone.

Imagine for a moment the situation of losing your job (for some this does not have to be imagined). Often we would still have our own properties, some money in the bank, the unemployment benefit and family/friends to help. Māori at the time had very little of this to help and other tribes were in the same situation as them.

So what do people really mean by “Māori have benefited from the process of colonisation”? Well-being is associated with choice. Before colonisation, Māori had abundant choice – afterwards choice was vastly diminished or even eliminated by enforced poverty.

Myth 10: “What we were taught about New Zealand history at school is 100% correct”.

An illustration that incomplete information can lead to a bias is given below:

Most people will have heard of the man called Hone Heke. He was an influential northern Māori chief in favour of the Treaty of Waitangi. He is attributed with the action of chopping the flagpole at Russell down a total of four times.

The image many people have of Hone Heke is of some wild primitive person who just liked to stir things up. There is some truth to this in that Hone Heke was involved in disturbances before the missionaries arrived and after the flag pole was cut down for the fourth time but the reasons for behaving in this way were very different in these two cases.

Many people are unaware that Hone attended the Kerikeri CMS mission school in 1824 and 1825 and he and his family were baptised and he was an Anglican lay preacher.[57] It is worth noting that baptism was not undertaken lightly by the missionaries so you can imagine neither was being given the privilege of being a lay preacher. Hone was an educated man and a professing Christian.

What were the reasons for him cutting down the flag pole? Hone Heke became increasingly disillusioned with the promises of the Treaty - there had been an expectation for new markets for the Māori resulting in prosperity for the northern tribes but the opposite was occurring. The chiefs felt uninvolved in the process of change with the promised opportunities bypassing them. Their mana was being totally eroded. Hone Heke only got involved in war when all other options were exhausted. People in our culture often go to war when they feel that their way of life is being seriously threatened by external forces - so did Hone.

We are all aware that if we ask two people to report on an accident from different viewpoints that we will get variations on the story. The common story of Hone Heke was one with a colonial filter applied. The other facts were left out since they do not support the applied filter being that “to be Māori” at the time was to be primitive.

Protest in the style of Hone Heke still persists today – think of Tāme Iti for example.

Myth 11: “That the new school curriculum is an attempt by government to re-write history to suit their agenda”

The direction in which the new history curriculum is coming from goes way back in time from our current government (for example the work of Dame Claudia Orange in the 1980s and there will be much earlier examples than this).[58]

The history as many of us were taught at school comes via the lens of colonisers who often distorted the truth and misled to try and justify their actions. These ideas have persisted and become entrenched in our understandings as fact. The “re-write of history” is nothing other than seeing our history through the Māori lens. Hence the new curriculum is a far more honest approach at delivering our true history. In the same manner as all current curricula, it is very broad leaving detail to the resource writers. For example the following statement from the curriculum document leaves plenty of room to teach about the Clapham Sect and the early missionaries : “These interactions, particularly those with missionaries, helped to facilitate the treaty process. Also important were the international events and ideas of the time that informed the Crown’s thinking and actions.”[59]

Myth 12: “Racism in New Zealand is and was fairly minor”.

The TV1 Documentary in 2022 called “No Māori Allowed”[60] portrays that up until the 1960s in Pukekohe, Māori were only allowed in the swimming pool on Fridays since on Saturdays the pool got cleaned, Māori were only allowed in certain parts of the picture theatre, they were not allowed into shops without an accompanying Pākeha and the list goes on.[61]

God sees racism as a sin - the degree of racism does not change the fact that it is a sin.

Myth 13: “You should get over it and get on with it”.

Continuing with reference to the “No Māori Allowed” documentary - a Māori lady was interviewed who went into a shop with her mother unaccompanied by a Pākeha as required. A Pākeha man took exception to this and beat her mother so badly that she could not work for the rest of her life. A taxi driver intervened but no doctor would take a proper look at her injuries. The daughter is now elderly and is still suffering from what happened that day.

Our nation is very young. It is easy to forget this when we live here. The events that followed the signing of the Treaty in 1840 happened less than 200 years ago. Events that happened such a short time ago in history still have an effect today on individuals, iwi and hapu.[62] A bit of maths is helpful - (2023-1840)/75 = 2.4. That is if we say a lifetime is 75 years, the treaty was about 2½  lifetimes ago. We normally talk in generations which makes it sound much longer ago.  We are a young nation and the perception of time is distorted.

How appropriate is it to say “Get over it and get on with it”?

Myth 14: “New Zealand suffers from reverse racism”

Racism by definition includes the idea “that some races are innately superior to others.”[63] This idea has been reinforced by Charles Darwin and of course is not Biblical.

Problems with differences between races can be experienced at different levels:

1.   Prejudice: Learned prejudgement which occurs instantaneously at the individual level.

2.   Discrimination: Unfair action based on prejudice taken at the individual level.

3.   Oppression: Group prejudice and discrimination backed by institutional power to impose a world view throughout society in a way that is difficult to avoid.[64]

The term “reverse racism” needs to be used with care since it is nearly impossible for racism at a higher level to be experienced as a dominant culture since the oppressed culture has no power to implement it. However individual prejudice and discrimination can occur in the reverse direction.

The face of oppression can be quite open as in the case of beating children for speaking of Te Reo in schools, or not quite so obvious as (for example) in the need for duty solicitors to represent children before the court - in 1969 Oliver Sutherland and  the Nelson Māori Committee became aware that twice as many non-Māori offenders had lawyers (86.7%) as did Māori (44.3%).[65] The political response to these official Justice Department figures was:

“Implications that Maoris appearing before the magistrates' courts in New Zealand were getting less than justice were incorrect, the Minister of Justice, Sir Roy Jack, said today. ... 'We have the best of British justice for all,' he said.”

-Nelson Evening Mail, 1 August 1972 [66]

Myth 15: “Self-determination for Māori is apartheid”

“The principle of rangatiratanga recognises Māori autonomy and self-determination, as guaranteed in Article 2 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”[67]

A translation from the Māori version (signed by most chiefs) of the second article is:

“The Queen of England agrees to protect the chiefs, the subtribes and all the people of New Zealand in the unqualified exercise of their chieftainship over their lands, villages and all their treasures. But on the other hand the chiefs of the Confederation and all the chiefs will sell land to the Queen at a price agreed to by the person owning it and by the person buying it (the latter being) appointed by the Queen as her purchase agent.”[68]

Apartheid talks about the oppression and systematic discrimination of one race by another. The oppressed race has very little in the way of choices. Self-determination seems to be the opposite of apartheid where Māori are given the right to decide for themselves as agreed in the Treaty.

Regardless of what is understood by the meaning of apartheid, self-determination was promised to Māori in the Treaty. Using the word “apartheid“ here seems to be an attempt to nullify the intent of the Treaty.

Myth 16: “The Treaty talks about one people”

The words used then were “He iwi tahi tātou”, often said to mean “We are now one people”, but better translated as ‘Together we are a nation’ ”  [69]

In other words, we are two peoples but one nation. If this were not the case, the question would be “Which culture will have to change?” Will Pākeha become Māori or Māori become Pākeha? We have already tried the second option (assimilation) and this has not worked. It is obvious the alternative will not work either. Human nature determines that the group with the most power wins. We need to understand each other and let each other have good control of their own destiny (self-determination).

Norman Kirk, New Zealand Prime Minister (1974) is quoted as saying:

“The idea of one people grew out of the days when fashionable folk talked about integration... integration is precisely what cats do to mice. They integrate them. The majority swallows up the minority; makes it sacrifice its culture and traditions and often its belongings to conform to the traditions and culture of the majority... We are two peoples and in no circumstances should we by any law or Act demand that any part of the New Zealand community should have to give up its inheritance, its culture, or its identity to play its part in this nation.”[70]

Myth 17: “You can’t discover the real history of New Zealand any longer”

Social media has comments such as “It is no longer possible to find the real history of New Zealand”. This is probably true if you limit yourself to reading social media opinion with no evidence to back it. However if you dig deeper you will find an abundance of documented history including eye witness accounts, quotes from Māori seeking justice, quotes from those negotiating the purchase of land, newspaper clips, etc. This is not evidence from some deep dark past – it mostly happened less than 200 years ago.

An example of this illustrates the common assumption that Māori were “simple savages” when in fact they were well educated:[71]

Myth 18: “Māori ceded sovereignty”

This documentation has outlined the involvement of Christian humanitarians (i.e. the Clapham Sect and the CMS missionaries) in our early history. “Forced colonisation, slavery and the wholesale pillaging of resources, British decision makers now preferred the more ethical approach championed by the Clapham Sect”.[72] In the lead up to the formation of the Declaration of Independence in 1835, it was becoming increasingly obvious that the opportunities of colonisation (not only from England but a number of other nations including the French and the Americans) were being actively investigated. The declaration determined that the land was not just there for the taking.

Between the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Waitangi, Māori along with the missionaries became increasingly concerned about the lawlessness of a section of the Pākeha community especially at Russell. They desired that England would exert control over this. Busby had been appointed to look after British interests but he had no authority to enforce any judgement he made which included criminal behaviour. During this time, the thinking in England was “that Britain should oversee responsibility for its own subjects, ensure adequate protection for the Māori people and the introduction of self-government for the settlers. Such a covenant between the Crown and Māori would be unique in colonial history.”  There was no indication here or in a previous quote used of Māori ceding sovereignty.

It is acknowledged that the wording and translation of the Treaty is in parts problematic. “In the English version of the Treaty, Māori give the British Crown ‘absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of sovereignty’ over their lands, but are guaranteed ‘undisturbed possession’ of their lands, forests, fisheries, and other properties.

In the Māori version of the Treaty, Māori give the Crown ‘kawanatanga katoa’– complete governorship. And they are guaranteed tino rangatiratanga (self-governance) – the unqualified exercise of chieftainship over their lands, dwelling places, and all other possessions.

These different promises don’t sit alongside each other easily.”[73] 

On 5 and 6 February 1840 there were many Māori speakers both for and against signing. A number were rather bluntly telling the British to go home and others like Hone Heke encouraging signing. There were a good number that recognised the risks in signing.

We are reminded that where there is conflict in meaning in documents such as the Treaty of Waitangi, the indigenous language text takes preference. As a result of this translation, there is little doubt that Māori signing the Treaty expected the right of self-governance or self-determination as a people. If it were not for this clause, it is likely that very few would have signed. As previously stated, many Māori saw this as a binding covenant between the British Crown and themselves which explains the strong feelings when the Treaty was not honoured.

A few questions need to be answered if the view that Māori ceded sovereignty is held:

1.    Why do people who favour the view of sovereignty being ceded not seem to mention the:

i.      influence of the Clapham sect via the British Parliament?

ii.    1835 Declaration of Independence?

2.    Why would Māori cede sovereignty only five years after proudly declaring independence?

3.    Hone Heke was one of the strongest proponents for retaining Māori self-determination and yet he was the first Māori chief to sign the Treaty.[74] “Heke, a Christian, had a close relationship with missionary Henry Williams, and, at the signing of the Treaty in 1840, he believed Williams' assurances that the authority of Māori chiefs would be protected.”[75] Why would he sign if the Treaty ceded sovereignty to the Crown?

4.    Why so much discussion and reluctance to sign on 5 and 6 February 1840?

5.    Why would Māori King movement [76] take place if Māori had agreed to British sovereignty? One of the ideas here was if ordinary Māori grievances could not be heard by the Crown, then it ought to work if communication was Crown to Crown.

6.    If Māori had so clearly ceded sovereignty, why are we still arguing about it all these years later?

In the end even if sovereignty were ceded, how does that justify the acts of colonization enforced on Māori?

Myth 19: “Co-governance has never been talked about”

The issue of Māori having a proper say about the direction of the country especially when it comes to their own future has always been a hot topic. The concept of self-determination for Māori in the Treaty has to have some degree of national governance associated with it otherwise there is no power to make decisions.

Evidence that co-governance was talked about in the early days is in this statement by former chief justice, Sir William Martin in 1862:

I am convinced that the so called King movement has been, and is even now, a movement which the Government should rather welcome as a godsend than attempt to crush as an enemy. Any fusion of the two races into one system of government and administration is not at present possible. The establishment of separate institutions for the native race is the only alternative.”[77]

The main reason that co-governance has become a political “hot potato” is that the topic tends to come up with little or no context. The Government has made very little effort to explain to the public the actions they are currently undertaking and proposing. Co-governance can cover a wide spectrum from parallel governmental systems to any system that allows Māori to have a say on Treaty issues when with normal procedures, it would be very hard for them to be heard (e.g. one person, one vote).

Historically there have been many and consistent constraints on how much say Māori have in self-determination and the running of Aotearoa. Decisions have often been made by Government that have not advanced the position of Māori and hence the power of their requests. Below are some of the many examples:

Nga Puhi Parliaments operated in Waitangi during the 1880s. Northern leaders called for these gatherings to be supported to fight for Treaty rights. They wanted to be associated with the government on Māori terms but were not asking for separatism. These requests were ignored.[78]

1.    Annual Māori parliaments for all tribes were held from 1892 until 1902. These happened in the spirit of kotahitanga (unity or oneness) with the aim of determining Māori needs and presenting them to the Wellington Parliament. However the Government ignored any advice and refused to recognise the Māori parliament.[79]

2.    Originally only landowners could vote. Since Māori land was owned communally, individuals did not own land and therefore were unable to have a say in elections. The land wars of the 1860s forced a rethink of this and in 1867 four parliamentary seats were set up for Māori. [80] However in the meantime a crucial time in history where Māori needed to have their complaints about land heard and acted upon had largely passed.

3.    When service men arrived home from World War 1, Pākeha were allocated land or trade training as part of the rehabilitation back into normal life. This offer did not extend to Māori.[81]

4.    After World War 2, Māori hoped for a more genuine sharing of power and authority but instead tribal committees were brought under a Māori Affairs  Department that were dominated by Pākeha.[82]

5.    Until around 1986/87 unless legislation had a reference to the Treaty or Treaty principles, then the law was unable to argue Treaty rights in legal cases.[83]

Many people will say that a Māori individual has the same political influence as as any other New Zealander and that may in some ways be technically true. However the Māori race has far less influence than the rest of the nation mainly due to numbers. This is important because of the conditions of the Treaty that were agreed to.

There is an impression that seems to be held by many that co-governance is a Labour Party “agenda” and forget about Chris Finlayson’s National Party work around 2012. He is quoted as saying“Co-governance should be embraced – not feared”.[84]

The current political events around the whole issue of co-governance needs to be seen in the context of the above and the rest of this documentation.

The Treaty would not be an issue today if it had been honoured. Principles like co-governance would be happening more than they currently are.

Myth 20: “The Public Health System (Te Whatu Ora) should deliver the same for Māori as it does for the rest of us”

This point continues on from co-governance. The foundation for this discussion has to be the Treaty (in particular Article 2 and the principle of self-determination). Secondly it is recognised that Māori life expectancy before colonisation was very similar or even better than European life expectancy.[85] A recent study has shown that “"For many global Indigenous populations, including those from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and Brazil, the experience of colonialism is the common factor driving health inequities”.[86]

Māori, especially when free of the debilitating effects of poverty, have been well capable of making good decisions for themselves. The Public Health system, at least to some extent, has failed Māori so what could be wrong with giving them a serious say in the future of their health? It is extremely likely that the outcome of this would be better than the status quo. If done well this should save money in the long term. This is not separatism but rather needs to be seen as restoring the balance and providing what is rightfully theirs. Remember that Māori were promised hospitals as part of the land deals that seldom came to fruition.

Myth 21: “Early missionary efforts resulted in a minimal number of Māori embracing Christianity”

The Gospel message had reached much of Aotearoa while the European missionaries were very much contained to the far north. This was due to Māori teachers and evangelists[87] spreading the good news themselves. There were groups of 1,000 or more Māori gathering at some East Coast locations for Sunday services and further instruction[88].

By 1853 there were 440 Māori teachers and evangelists working across the country[89]. A bit earlier than this in 1844 when there were 12 European missionaries there were 295 kaiwhakaako which is somewhat spectacular[90].

Overseas mission in New Zealand was in decline from about 1854 [91] but in 1836  it was said that “the impact of the Christian message was so dramatic that New Zealand was considered one of the most successful mission fields in the world, ….”[92]

A good example of the free way in which Māori embraced Christianity was the annual Māori Christian service held in Whanganui by the missionary Richard Grey in 1846. There were two services - the Māori one attracted about 2,000 people whereas the English service attracted only about 400. Māori were reported as jokingly saying “So who are the heathen now?” [93] Considering that this was a meeting in Whanganui and that the total Māori population in 1846 was around 73,000 [94], 2,000 is a good number! It is noted that across the country attendance for public worship for the CMS portion of the work was [95] estimated to be 30,000 or more though no date is given. If we take the 1846 figure given above, this would be 41% of the Māori population.

As one might expect, it is hard to find specific details about the number of Christians amongst Māori in the early days. A specific figure of 60% within the first 35 years of the coming of the gospel (1814-1849) is mentioned in Wikipedia [96] with no reference. Claudia Orange in one of her books says “… nearly half of the Māori population was following Christian beliefs and ways”.[97]

All references point to a significant proportion of the Māori population being Christian in the early days.

Myth 22: “Māori myths and legends are a barrier to Christian belief”.

It is well worth the time to view a video about contextualising the gospel for Maori [98] In this video Sam Henere from King’s Church, Porirua discusses this topic. As an example he uses the Māori creation story to weave in the Biblical creation account.  This results with Māori in tears as they perceive the God of creation for the first time helped by their own creation story. God can speak through the many cultural creation stories that are present throughout the world.  

An example of this from history is when a chief named Maru, who was considered to be one of the most intellectual of Māori at the Waikouaiti Mission had a dramatic conversion under the preaching of one of the missionaries (Creed). The topic was “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” and Creed illustrated his theme by referring to Māui (the incarnate god of the Māori). Maru was deeply moved and from that time was a changed man who was received into church fellowship by Christian baptism.[99]

Many countries have legends and stories that as a whole are not compatible with the Christian world view but have elements of truth embedded. Many of these arise from a desire to explain how the world began. Many of the Māori legends, superstitions and folk law are spiritual in content, but they are sometimes more pragmatic than we might have realized.  As an example, we all probably are aware of the legend of how Māui fished up the North Island with his grandmother’s jaw bone while a long distance out in the ocean. At the right time while approaching the North Island out at sea, the Scorpius constellation would be visible shaped like a scorpion or a fish hook.

“For Aotearoa, Scorpius is Te Matau a Māui, the fishhook that Māui used to fish the North Island from the sea. This is an allegory to the fact that when travelling on the ocean, the land looks like it’s being pulled from behind the horizon by an invisible force. In reality, it is the curvature of the Earth that makes it look so.”[100]

As said, some Māori legends are an attempt to explain how things began. Using these to introduce the Christian world view can result in the “light being switched on”. Is this any different to using C.S.Lewis’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” as an allegory to ignite faith in a reader?

Myth 23: “Celebration of Matariki is to be avoided by Christians”

Matariki has different names around the world – Pleiades in was its ancient Greek name and in Japan it is known as Subaru. Matariki is a time (among other things) for:

>> Remembrance – honouring those we have lost since the last rising of Matariki.

>> Celebrating the present – gathering together to give thanks for what we have.

>> Looking to the future – looking forward to the promise of a new year. [101]

Each star has connections to such things as wellbeing, planting, food gathering, water, hopes and aspirations, remembering, ….. There is an opportunity here to introduce the Creator of these stars! What Paul said (Acts 17:23) to those in Athens seems very relevant - “For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you.”  Our own culture is the environment where the rubber of our faith meets the road – it is the context that our faith is worked out in. We need to ask the question – are we willing for Māori to come to faith from within their own world view or do we expect them to come from a Western world view? We have to remember that Jesus did not have a Western world view. Every race is made in the image of God and in our fallen state we reflect in our cultures some aspects that are from the Kingdom of God and other aspects that are not. The aspects that are reflecting God’s Kingdom are a vital link between people of the target culture and faith in God.

The big picture is this: our Pākeha ancestors represented by the Crown made a covenant with Māori who saw God being involved. How do we honour that today? One way is to recognize and celebrate the good things in their culture. A number of these good things are demonstrated in Matariki. Doing this honours both Māori and God.

Myth 24: “Early Māori nautical navigation was a hit and miss affair”

By 1200BC, the ancestors of the Māori had probed thousands of kilometers into the Pacific using outrigger canoes to carry themselves, their livestock and their chattels. There were two skills that enabled them to dare to explore the world’s largest ocean – the ability to build sturdy double-hulled, highly manoeuvrable sailing canoes and navigational skills to read the sky, the sea currents, wind, bird migrations and how these changed with the seasons. These skills enabled them to return to their homes once a new island was located. To make this all the more amazing, everything had to be memorised to be passed down to successive generations embedded in the vehicle of folklore.

“James Cook and those aboard the Endeavour in the second half of the eighteenth century were among the first outsiders to comprehend the extent of the long-distance voyaging of the Polynesians. A Tahitian priest aboard the Endeavour, Tupaia, made it obvious that not only did the Pacific Islanders look similar but they spoke closely related languages. He also knew the general location of many of the inhabited islands. Cook, the greatest navigator of his time, belonged to the first generation able to calculate longitude precisely with the use of accurate shipboard instruments and navigational tables and, after his first voyage, chronometers. He could thus pinpoint his position anywhere on the globe. He and his companions realised that when Polynesians were voyaging around the Pacific in large but relatively fragile double canoes, the most expert sailors in countries that had the technology to build large ships were still nervous about losing sight of land.”[102]

More can be found out by visiting the ātea a rangi (star compass) near Napier (

Myth 25: “Te reo Māori is used too much in public New Zealand life”

The first point to note is that te reo Māori has been an official language of New Zealand since 1987.[103] So when we might get annoyed with the amount of te reo in (say) the TV1 weather, it may help to remember that there was a time when Māori were not allowed to speak te reo in the education system. If we expect there to be a true partnership, then knowing some te reo such as simple greetings and place names is important. Understanding the language and understanding the culture go hand in hand.

In the light of this, anecdotal evidence suggests that the number of people attending te reo courses throughout the country is at an all time high. These are mainly Pākeha but there are also a number of Māori who missed out on Māoritanga along the way.

Myth 26: “The church has always been supportive of Māori in Treaty issues”

An attempt has been made to show that the early missionaries were very supportive of equality of the races, equal opportunities and partnership between Māori and Pākeha. An early breakdown in this thinking was when Bishop Selwyn gave in to pressure to provide chaplaincy support for the British troops in war.[104] As the effects of colonisation took place, the support of the church from Māori dwindled. Who could blame Māori for their distrust of Pākeha of whom the majority had ignored the Treaty and the Christian church. It is acknowledged however that there are many whānau today who are still active and strong Christians.

It is noted that the Anglican Church apologised in 2018 for its role in a land snatch during the colonial era. “Two Māori groups, Ngati Tapu and Ngai Tamarawaho, had entrusted 1333 acres of land to the Church Missionary Society. In 1866, the CMS gave the land to the Crown. “With heads hung low, two of the most senior bishops of this church apologised” for the decision”, Anglican Taonga said. “True, the CMS had come under intolerable pressure from the Crown to sell out. But that land was not CMS’s to sell, nor to give away – but once given, it was gone forever, and the [two Māori clans] were thrown into poverty.” [105]

Myth 27: “Utu is all about an eye for an eye”

While utu can certainly be about revenge, vengeance, retaliation, payback, and retribution this is not the limit of meaning for the word despite the fact that in wartime this is what it usually meant. Utu is about maintaining and restoring the balance and harmony between individuals and groups in society.[106] If a wrong is done, utu can be the action of saying sorry.

War between tribes was not continuous throughout pre-European times. It came to the fore when prime land and resources became scarce due to an increasing population. The principle of utu in war was very much like that of Celtic societies such as the Highland Scots.[107]

A good illustration of this was when a war had resulted in a loss of life. A meeting was held to decide how to respond – part of the group wanted a life for a life but the Christians said that they wanted to arrive in mass at the enemy’s cultivated fields and plant a field of potatoes.[108] It is important to understand that this is still utu - true balance was being restored in a positive way rather than lives taken. Utu does not have to mean “an eye for an eye”. Can you imagine the reconciliation that would have happened in this situation?

Myth 28: “Māori should not be getting any favours since they were not the first people to come to New Zealand”

“In Māori tradition patupaiarehe, also known as tūrehu and pakepakehā, were fairy-like creatures of the forests and mountain tops. Although they had some human attributes, patupaiarehe were regarded not as people but as supernatural beings (he iwi atua).”[109]

There are some who say that these people were a real race with white skin and red or fair hair. It is claimed that they were common throughout the Pacific and there is DNA and archaeological evidence that they originated from Persia via Central America and Chile.[110]

In the context of the possibility that Māori wiped these people out, it is sometimes claimed that Māori should not be getting any favours via the Treaty. However the Treaty of Waitangi was made in good faith between Pākeha and Māori who were the tangata whenua at the time. There is an inconsistency here in that the same people who say that Māori should be made to be responsible for their historical actions towards patupaiarehe do not want to be made responsible for the historical actions of Pākeha towards Māori.

Myth 29: “The amount of money spent on Treaty settlements is crippling”

COVID-19 spending: $62.1 billion [111]

2019/20 Social security and welfare: $49.9 billion [112]

2019/20 Health: $20.5 billion [112]

2019/20 Education: $17.6 billion [112]

Total Treaty Settlements since 1975: $2.4 billion [113]

Two more relevant facts are:

1.    "Two years of Corrections' vote is more than all the money paid out in all treaty settlements."[114]

2.    “The entire value of Treaty settlements over the past quarter of a century would cover superannuation payments for two months.”[115]  

A more recent quote about Treaty Settlements is:

“The total cost - which may total something over $3 billion in 2020 dollars - is going to be spread over thirty years (or more). At a very rough guess this will equate to perhaps 0.05 per cent of national income over that period. This makes it abundantly clear that the generosity in the process has been all on the Māori side.”[116]

Instead of complaining about the greed of Māori around the amount of money being involved in Treaty settlements, we should be appreciating the grace in Māori for accepting much less than what they are really due.

For many Māori, the formal apology from the Crown is a very important part of the settlement. A settlement has two big picture parts - the honour and integrity of the Crown is restored as is the mana and status of Māori. Settlements also include agreements about on-going relationships. Chris Finlayson is quoted as saying “Anyone who thinks that Treaty settlements are commercial deals which are done and dusted has it wrong. There are ongoing commitments and undertakings in our settlements that have to be honoured, otherwise they won’t be durable.[117]

It is obvious to say that a full fiscal settlement would bankrupt the country. It is also true that over time, breaking Treaty promises has bankrupted many Māori in more ways than financial.


This documentation has attempted to show that the original official intention from England was to approach the opportunities of New Zealand in a way that treated the indigenous people as being equal giving them the right to partnership and fair negotiation in land deals with the opportunity to say no. Within a few years of the signing of the Treaty, this goal broke down and traditional colonisation took place resulting in the agreements in the Treaty being broken. This has had huge ongoing effects on Māori–Pākeha relationships and Māori involvement in Christianity.

It is not too hard to postulate that God’s intention around the arrival of early settlers from England was to use this as a model of how to achieve a mutually agreed settlement rather than traditional colonisation. Imagine how different our society would be today if the eagerness to learn and industriousness of early Māori had continued to be fostered alongside their right to self-determination.

This column also attempts to show how the Māori race who were once described by Marsden as being a race of “very intelligent men” changed to the perception of Māori contained in this Lyttelton Times report from a Wakefield inspired committee (the Wellington Constitutional Association) around 1851 to set up principles of self-government for New Zealand:

“Question of Political Equality for Māori’s.

The Native race is fast becoming extinct, and there is no prospect of their becoming a body sufficiently enlightened for the exercise of political privileges before the period of their extinction shall arrive.[118] Nevertheless some participation may be allowed provided sufficient guarantees be given against the possibility of the superior intelligence of the Europeans being over-balanced by the ignorance of the uncivilised race. A qualification ought to be required sufficiently high to restrict the privilege of voting to the few natives who form exceptions to the general barbarism of the rest.”

Some of the scriptures that are relevant are:

Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

The original missionaries in New Zealand played a very big role in terms of peacemaking between warring tribes. Wouldn’t be great if the Christian church today could play a role in peacemaking between Māori and Pākeha so that our partnership could be enhanced?

2 Corinthians 5:17-18

17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come! 18 And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

We have been given the ministry of reconciliation - how can we use this to rebuild the partnership between Māori and Pākeha?

Galatians 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Wouldn't it be great if we could see Māori coming to Christ as they did in the early days so we could know one-ness in Christ? However just as we would not expect a Jew to leave all of their Jewishness behind, the same is true of Māori. Being one in Christ does not mean we are all exactly the same!

All this is massive - we cannot get there in one step. I believe the answer of how do we begin is in the last scripture:

James 1:19

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.

We could get hung up on how to fix all this but maybe all that God is asking us to do at the moment is to listen - listen to Māori, historians and of course to the Holy Spirit.  No true partnership can begin and be sustained without listening being involved.

All this is not about setting us up to receive blame - this will shut down the listening process. It is also not about saying “Get over it and get on with it” since this will give the message to Māori that we think what happened was not significant and again shut down the listening process.

There are some people who take a different view of history usually centred around disagreements on meanings taken from the wording of the Treaty. Whatever view is taken, it is difficult to understand how this would justify the extremely poor treatment the Māori race has received during the history of our nation.

 Listen to what Jay Ruka says in his book “Huia Come Home”[119]

When God speaks, there is creation. With just a word God brings forth life, transforming people, circumstances, and events. In this season here in New Zealand, God is awakening us to look and learn from the things that are unique and indigenous to our land; to our New Zealand story. If we are serious about following Jesus, or fully representing our land in our creativity, then we must recognise this awakening. We absolutely cannot move forward until we understand the good and the bad of our nation's past.”

Two Māori proverbs to finish with:

Māori proverb (whakataukī): “He waka eke noa”. “We are all in this together”.

1 Thess 5:11 “……. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind……” The Message Bible.

Māori proverb (whakataukī): Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua”. “I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past”. The individual carries their past into the future.

Jesus said in Luke 9:62 “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” however Deuteronomy 32:7 says “Remember the ancient days; bear in mind the years of past generations. Ask your father and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you.”

We are shaped by our past but the context of Luke 9:62 makes it clear that as Christians we should not be embedded in it or limited by it  - we are new creations (2 Cor 5:17) being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). In this there is great hope for Māori and Pākeha together!

Read other Pondering… columns here.


[1] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective. Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084. p. 142.

[2] A Short History of New Zealand, Gordon McLauchlan. Penguin Books, 2004. ISBN 0143019082. p. 54.




[6] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective". Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084, p. 153.

[7] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 143.

[8] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective. Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084, p. 322.

[9] The Story of a Treaty. Claudia Orange. Allen & Unwin, 1989,1990. Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1992,1993,1994. ISBN 0 04 641053 8. p. 34.

[10] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective. Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084. p. 27.

[11] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective. Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084. p. 29.

[12] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective. Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084. p. 41.


(teara = Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of NZ)


[15] The Story of a Treaty. Claudia Orange. Allen & Unwin, 1989,1990. Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1992,1993,1994. ISBN 0 04 641053 8. p. 49.

[16] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. pp. 66-67.

[17] Arowhenua – An Informal History. Compiled by Peter Hopkinson. Available at the Timaru Public Library or Museum. p. 78.

[18] A Short History of New Zealand, Gordon McLauchlan. Penguin Books, 2004. ISBN 0143019082. pp. 65-55.

[19] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 95.






[25] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective. Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084. p. 289.



[28] The Story of a Treaty. Claudia Orange. Allen & Unwin, 1989,1990. Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1992,1993,1994. ISBN 0 04 641053 8. p. 39.

[29] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 40.

[30] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. pp. 40-41.

[31] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective. Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084. p. 180


[33] confirmed in “Bible and Treaty”, page not known.

[34] The Story of a Treaty. Claudia Orange. Allen & Unwin, 1989,1990. Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1992,1993,1994. ISBN 0 04 641053 8. p. 45.

[35] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective. Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084. p. 299.


Salutary Punishment - Taranaki Māori Prisoners in Dunedin, 1869-72 and 1879-81. Ian Church. Published by the Pātea Historical Society, 2nd Edition 2019. ISBN 978-0-473-45604-7.

Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 184


[38] “Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori”. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 53.


[40] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori”. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p.181.






[46] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 148.

[47] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p.156.

[48] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 154.


[50] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 157.

[51] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 145.

[52] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. pp. 157-156 .







[59] Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories in the New Zealand Curriculum p. 17.



[62] Land loss and the intergenerational transmission of wellbeing: The experience of iwi in Aotearoa New Zealand, Rowan Ropata Macgregor Thom, Arthur Grimes. School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington. Accessed on 13/3/2023


[64] Sharon Annett, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Treaty of Waitangi, Compilation of Readings,  p. 15 based on “What Does It Mean To Be White?” Robin DiAngelo

[65] Justice & Race. Campaigns against racism and abuse in Aoteroa New Zealand. Oliver Sutherland. Steele Roberts Aotearoa Publishers, 2020. ISBN 978-1-99-000713-2 p. 19.

[66] Justice & Race. Campaigns against racism and abuse in Aotearoa New Zealand. Oliver Sutherland. Steele Roberts Aotearoa Publishers, 2020. p. 17.



[69] Claudia Orange ref.

[70] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. Pg 288 from Hansard, vol. 391, 1974, p. 2691.

[71]  New Zealand Mail, Issue 690, 22 May 1885, Page 20

[72] "Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective". Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084. pg 140

[73] (This content was originally written for the Treaty2U website in partnership with National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa (link is external) and Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o Te Kāwanatanga (link is external) in 2008, and reviewed in 2020.)




[77] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 65.

[78] The Story of a Treaty. Claudia Orange. Allen & Unwin, 1989,1990. Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1992,1993,1994. ISBN 0 04 641053 8. p. 66.

[79] The Story of a Treaty. Claudia Orange. Allen & Unwin, 1989,1990. Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1992,1993,1994. ISBN 0 04 641053 8. p. 67.


[81] The Story of a Treaty. Claudia Orange. Allen & Unwin, 1989,1990. Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1992,1993,1994. ISBN 0 04 641053 8. p. 70.

[82] The Story of a Treaty. Claudia Orange. Allen & Unwin, 1989,1990. Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1992,1993,1994. ISBN 0 04 641053 8. p. 74.

[83] The Story of a Treaty. Claudia Orange. Allen & Unwin, 1989,1990. Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1992,1993,1994. ISBN 0 04 641053 8. p. 79.





[88] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 17.




[92] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 17.

[93] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective. Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084. p. 213


[95] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective. Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084. p. 116.


[97] The Story of a Treaty. Claudia Orange. Allen & Unwin, 1989,1990. Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1992,1993,1994. ISBN 0 04 641053 8. p. 34.


[99] Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p.142.



[102] A Short History of New Zealand, Gordon McLauchlan. Penguin Books, 2004. ISBN 0143019082. p. 19.





[107] A Short History of New Zealand, Gordon McLauchlan. Penguin Books, 2004. ISBN 0143019082. p. 34.

[108] Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective". Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143204084. Page not noted. Also “Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori”. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6. p. 13.








[116] Michael Cullen “Labour Saving” 2021, pp. 307-308



[119] “Huia Come Home”. Jay Ruka. Oati, 2022. ISBN 9781877487996, p. 14


Bible and Treaty. Missionaries among the Māori - a new perspective. Keith Newman. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 978-0-143-20408-4.

Beyond Betrayal. Trouble in the promised land - restoring the mission to Māori. Keith Newman, Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-143-57051-6.

Huia come home. Jay Ruka. Oati, 2022. ISBN 978-1-87748799-6

The Story of a Treaty. Claudia Orange. Allen & Unwin, 1989,1990. Bridget Williams Books Ltd, 1992,1993,1994. ISBN 0-046-41053-8.

A Short History of New Zealand, Gordon McLauchlan. Penguin Books, 2004. ISBN 0-143-01908-2.

Justice & Race. Campaigns against racism and abuse in Aotearoa New Zealand. Oliver Sutherland. Steele Roberts Aotearoa Publishers, 2020. ISBN 978-1-99-000713-2

Salutary Punishment - Taranaki Māori Prisoners in Dunedin, 1869-72 and 1879-81. Ian Church. Published by the Pātea Historical Society, 2nd Edition 2019. ISBN 978-0-473-45604-7.

Harbouring. A distant land, a new life, an escape from the past ….. Jenny Pattrick. Penguin Random House, 2022. (Historical novel). ISBN 978-0-14377667-3

Māori. A photographic and social history.  Michael King. Raupo Book, Penguin Group. 2008. ISBN 978-0-14301088-3

Image credit: SIR GEORGE GREY COLLECTION. AUCKLAND. The Church Missionary Society mission set up at Waimate, in the inland Bay of Islands in 1830, included a large farm with sheep, cattle, horses, gardens and orchards. This engraving of the farm was made in the early 1840s by the British army officer Cyprian Bridge.

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