Christine Stride is Executive Assistant to the National Leader and works at the Baptist National Support Centre in Auckland. She is part of Titirangi Baptist Church. 

The Iriiri Māori session of our 2023 Hui last November was called He Koronga Maatou – We have a dream. Led by Te Pouarataki mō te Hīkoi, our Treaty Guide, Luke Kaa-Morgan, the session started with a waiata whose lyrics tell of the challenges and the hope involved in reclaiming te reo Māori, reclaiming identity. The session’s 12-strong panel shared their dreams for Iriiri Māori. Below is a summary of what was on their hearts. 

There was an ongoing call for Pākehā to recognise and acknowledge the good things Māori culture could bring to our churches, to our country and to the world, and be willing to adopt them. 

The church working with and learning from Māori would help reveal the richness of God’s character in Aotearoa.  

Hui delegates were reminded of the welcoming and intimate connections made at the previous day’s pōwhiri – a uniquely and beautifully Māori protocol of welcome.  

Our Baptist whānau still has a way to go before we find our place and feel authentically supported as Māori. There is a new and challenging kōrero coming; Baptist Māori and our wider Baptist whānau need courage for this conversation. 

There was a call for the Baptist church to acknowledge its history in Aotearoa as a settler church. Doing that would more successfully build, and sustain, good relationships with Māori. 

Several panellists called on church leaders to improve their engagement with te reo Māori, to help them begin to understand the Māori world and culture. 

One panellist’s dream was for the real story of what Tangata Whenua lost to be known and acknowledged. 

“[My dream is] That we would truly understand the history and look at our own lives and ask how we can help reconcile the trauma that has transgressed the generations.”  

Another panellist’s dream was to see Māori streaming into the church.  

The panel of Iriiri Māori were excited that they could dream, said Luke Kaa-Morgan. He reminded Hui delegates of the strategy of the former Labour government and key Māori leadership to have one million capable Māori speakers by 2040, and wondered if Haahi Iriiri could participate in helping to fulfil that. Kaa-Morgan said other Iriiri Māori aspirations were for the word of God to go out in English and te reo Māori, that one day te Pāti Māori and other influential Māori spaces would ask to wānanga with the Baptist whānau because of our strategic leadership, and for more Iriiri Māori leaders and theologians to emerge.  

As the session ended, Baptist National Leader Charles Hewlett summed up what he’d heard from the panel and looked forward to the future: 

“I want us to be able to say together, ‘your dreams are our dreams, your aspirations are our aspirations’. We need your help. We want to be good covenantal partners with you in seeing these things come to fruition…To see gospel renewal come to Māori people and Māori places. I firmly believe that the Baptist churches can be used by God to bring healing to our nation. That the name of Jesus Christ might be glorified in this land and beyond.” 


Click here to see the video for the waiata Hey Love, written by Jordyn Rapana. 

Baptist Union of New Zealand Treaty Affirmation Statements

Te Whāriki team, our Iriiri Māori leaders. 

Photo: The Iriiri Māori session at the Baptist National Hui 2023. Taken by Morgan Dews.

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