Digging in to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

a young man walks across a field. Rain clouds scud across a dark sky.
Ka mua ka muri

This post seeks to answer some questions from the learning I am doing through Tātai Pūmanawa. I will always have the voice of my friend and colleague Maria Tibble in my mind as I consider Te Tiriti o Waitangi and what it means to me, the people with whom I work and the way that I interact and live my life in Aotearoa, New Zealand. I can feel her looking over my shoulder, I can picture her smile and hear her voice. Her passion was infectious. So, I will try to honour her as I grapple with the questions and my jumbled thoughts.

Who would hold power after the Treaty was signed?

It seems clear from the articles of Te Tiriti that power would be shared equally; Kāwanatanga, Rangatiratanga, Ōritetanga but if we look at the history of colonisation by Britain, it is clear that the aim was to extend or retain its authority over other people or territories. The aim may have been initially to open trade opportunities but Britain also sought to benefit from the countries it colonised. The underlying sense of superiority that the British had contributed massively to the way that Māori and other indigenous populations in Australia and Canada were treated. The Church which had a powerful presence in Europe, it was at the cutting edge of colonisation across the world and it contributed and legitimised the actions of colonising powers. In “Healing our History” (Consedine & Consedine p.68) there is a quote from a J.M. Blunt; “A missionary might have great love and respect for the people among he or she worked, but would not be expected to believe that the culture and mind of those non-Christians was on a par to that of Christian Europeans.” Whilst the negative impact of colonisation on indigenous populations had been recognised in Britain, and ideas were beginning to change about colonisation the need to protect trade and British economic interests was stronger.

With those mindsets, how could the idea of shared power ever become a reality?

from Healing our History; The Challenge of the Treaty of Waitangi
Robert Consedine & Joana Consedine

Did the Treaty create new rights for Pākehā people? Did it create new rights for Māori people?

‘New rights’ or any rights? In theory, Te Tiriti formalised or set out a framework for governance and the way that Māori and Pākeha lived together with shared rights and responsibilities. In theory all Māori men had the right to vote by 1867, in practice there were so many conditions that they couldn’t. As long as Māori were seen to be inferior in terms of their intellect, their ways of interacting, working, living, communicating, their beliefs then their rights would be compromised.

What important things does the Treaty say Māori will keep?

Rangatiratanga: Māori would maintain independence and control of lands and all that is important to them. My interpretation of that would be that Māori maintained their taonga – their language, culture, stories, tikanga, beliefs and the values upon which their way of life was based.

However, in 1907 New Zealand government passed the Suppression of Tohunga Act which banned Māori traditional healers and religion. This Act meant that Māori knowledge with respect to medicine, the environment, the arts and links between spirituality and secularity was disregarded and not recognised. It was not repealed until 1962. This sort of approach amounts to systematic cultural genocide. George Tinker, American historian suggests this as a definition for cultural genocide;

the effective destruction of a people by systematically destroying, eroding or undermining the integrity of the culture and system of values that defines a people and gives them life.

What impact did the population of Pākehā and Māori have before and after the Treaty was signed?

At the time of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Māori outnumbered Pākeha by 200,000 to 2,000. The Māori economy was strong, communities flourished, traded internationally and had a sophisticated socio-economic system. Following the signing of the Treaty immigration to Aotearoa, New Zealand boomed. The conditions that ensued, the way that Māori were treated and the impact of that on their way of life, their economic status, the diseases that were imported with the new settlers to which Māori were immune all led to a steady decline in the population.

Linda Tuhinui Smith says in respect to the promises that were not kept by the colonisers which were enshrined in Te Tiriti o Waitangi;

“Indigenous populations may have survived colonisation but the impact on their social, political and economic systems is huge.”

a collage of two photos. One of the carved entrance way to a Pā sute, the other are the words inscribed on the inside of the gateway.
Entrance gate to Rangiriri Pā “Without vision the people will perish” Kingi Tāwhiao

Is partnership the same as collaboration? Or consultation? What could Tiriti based partnership look like at CORE?

I believe that partnership means that we have a shared understanding of what our vision for the way our world should be and the way that we interact within it. When I think about my conversations with Maria I remember her fierceness and her absolute belief that her mokopuna should live in a world that recognised – not just recognised, celebrated, respected, revered and absolutely empowered them to know their whakapapa, to practise their beliefs, use and develop their language, to reach their potential and go beyond it. But she was also open to seeing things from different perspectives and acknowledging that the history of Aotearoa, New Zealand is a shared history. We shouldn’t blame the descendants of settlers for the wrongs their tipuna committed. We should encourage them to know the real history of Aotearoa, New Zealand, support them in understanding what happened and why and empower them to own the history. Vincent O’Malley says in the foreword of his book, The Great War for New Zealand, that the stories need to be told and heard if we are to reconcile ourselves with the past, we need to understand it and freely acknowledge it so we can move forwards.

The Waitangi Tribunal commented: “While only one side remembers the suffering of the past, dialogue will always be difficult. One side commences with anger and the other side has no idea why. Reconciliation cannot be achieved by this means.”

For us at CORE and indeed in all our kura and our nation as a whole, we can only work in true partnership if there is recognition, acknowledgement, empathy, understanding and forgiveness of what has happened in the past so we can learn from it and move into the future together.

Further questions I am still pondering;

If we are thinking about working in partnership with tangata whenua, ask yourself what you might know about tangata whenua. Does your own world intercept with the Māori world? If so, to what extent? What is Māori ‘worldview’? What is different about Māori culture to your own culture? If your culture was a ring, and te ao Māori was a ring (picture a venn diagram) how would the two worlds meet?


Welcome to a bi-cultural Aotearoa

180_HCC_Citizenship_28Jul17.JPGTwo weeks ago my family and I became New Zealand citizens.  We came here 10 years ago this coming January from the UK. Why did we choose New Zealand over any other country? Partly because Nigel lived here 40 years ago when his parents emigrated from Scotland when he was 2 years old. He went to primary school here and his brother was born here.  Although they went back to Scotland when he was 8 years old, by that time his Aunties had come out and so we have some relatives here and a strong connection with the place.  Partly because it is an English speaking country so the boys and Nigel wouldn’t have to cope with learning a new language (our other option had been France). Partly because we are adventurers!

We came for a holiday in 2005 with our boys and we were struck by the beauty of the landscape, the open spaces, the lack of traffic on the roads…. Careful not to be swayed by the rose tinted glasses of being on holiday, we tried to look beyond the veneer as we travelled and considered whether NZ was a place we could live in.  As a traveller and a linguist, I am fascinated by language, culture, customs and people and how they interrelate.  I was fascinated by the fact that Aotearoa is a bicultural country with three official languages. Although I was struck early on by the lack of visibility of Te Reo; apart from a few signs at the airport saying Haere mai, Kia ora, Haere ra, images of the All Blacks performing the haka, Māori patterns and carved pou, there is little beyond that to indicate that the Māori language is living and breathing in all facets of the country .

Over the last ten years, I have learned a lot. I have made every effort to find out more about Māori tikanga (customs), and learn Te Reo Māori. It is hard. Not like any other language I have learned. Mainly because so many of the words have multiple meanings depending on the context. It is heavily nuanced and spiritual.  I think to learn it you really need to be immersed in the language and the people.  I am surprised as I learn about the pronunciation of the words, how badly the general populace articulates place names such as Taupō, and how they refuse to accept the Māori names of places they have long known in English such as Taranaki (Mount Egmont).  Places whose names were changed when Europeans came to Aotearoa and settled here.  This is because they have been mispronounced for so long that people believe that the way they were brought up pronouncing them is the correct way.  However, there is a growing awareness of the language and how words should be pronounced and I hear that on the radio, on TV and amongst my friends and colleagues.  I also know that many resist!

As an educator, I am encouraged to recognise diversity and respect the bi-cultural nature of Aotearoa.  For the last two years, I have been lucky enough to work for a company that values the language and the tikanga, celebrates what everyone brings to the table and promotes cultural responsiveness.  I am learning more language, developing a greater understanding of tikanga (though I have so much to learn) and  I am learning more about Te Tiriti o Waitangi and how it represents a partnership between Māori and Tou Iwi (other people).  A responsibility to recognise the values that all cultures bring to the rich tapestry of Aotearoa.  The articles are:

A1. Kāwanatanga
Honourable Governance: the right of the British to govern

A2. Rangatiratanga
Māori Retaining Agency, Voice, Choice
the right of hapū to retain sovereignty

A3. Ōritetanga
Equity: the guarantee that Māori would have the same rights as others

A4. Tikanga, Ahurea, Whakapono
Cultural & Spiritual Freedom: Māori customs shall be protected (the spoken promise)

Image of an original version of  Tiriti o Waitangi -it is an old, yellowed document with maori text By Archives New Zealand from New Zealand (Printed Sheet, Te Tiriti o Waitangi) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

So, back to our citizenship ceremony. This was our official welcome to the country we have chosen to call home.  We dressed in our best clothes – I got the boys “Robertson” ties to reflect their Scottish heritage (we thought about kilts but it was just too expensive!), took the day off work and school, planned a celebration (at the behest of friends – any excuse to party) and turned up at the Pavilion in Hamilton Gardens.

It was pleasant enough – 132 people representing 22 different nations, all seeking to become NZ citizens. We recited our affirmation of allegiance together and then one by one, family by family, received our certificates from the mayor and a Kowhai sapling to plant.Bright yellow flower formed like elongated bells

What was missing then?  Any indication that we were becoming citizens of a bicultural country.  Oh, apart from a bit of tokenism.

Neither the MC, nor the Mayor, nor the Member of Parliament who spoke to welcome us after we received our certificates of citizenship made any attempt to use any Reo Māori.  The Kaumatua seemed to have been ‘wheeled’ in to fulfil the niceties of the occasion but it was shallow and meaningless. How can officials of our bicultural country, a country which has at its basis a partnership, hold an important ceremony in which they fail to even use the most basic words of one of its official languages?  Our Member of Parliament even made reference to the diversity of the country and how all cultures were welcomed and recognised. He even urged those 22 different nationalities to hold on to their customs and languages, to keep our identities, hold on to our whakapapa (though he didn’t use that language). He went as far as stressing that our language is an essential part of who we are.  Yet he didn’t use Te Reo Māori, he didn’t even make reference to the Māori name of Hamilton, Kirikiriroa, as he welcomed us.

I left feeling a little empty and quite angry. Maybe I expected too much. From the land where the Haka is performed with such pride and gusto at every international rugby match, a visible and very physical representation of Māori-ness to the world.  I have grown used to Pōwhiri, to waiata, to karakia. To the warmth and richness of celebrations and welcomes in schools I have been a part of and that I have visited. I have been privileged to have been welcomed on to Marae as I have travelled the country, to have been welcomed into communities with warmth and friendship.  Our citizenship ceremony lacked that warmth, that true welcome, it lacked a bi-cultural depth.  It felt like it was a ceremony that goes through the motions – well oiled, smoothly executed. But it didn’t really seem like it was all about he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.  It was Hamilton’s opportunity to show how important it perceives Te Tiriti to be as a guiding document and a way of living in partnership. To exemplify what partnership is to 132 people who have chosen to live in a bicultural, multicultural country. I don’t feel that it did that.

However, we do feel that we belong…we have been welcomed by friends. colleagues and whānau ever since we arrived here 10 years ago, so maybe we should put the ‘official’ welcome in context.  This whakatauki talks of Turangawaewae, of belonging.

E kore au e ngaro, he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea

I will never be lost for I am a seed sown in the heavens