09 Jan, 2023 God in our history – a journey to work to preserve

God in our history (A journey to work to preserve)

This article comes from the Shining Lights Trust’s 2023 ‘Outreach Today’ publication, sent to churches nationally in that year.


Across the past decade, many hundreds of churches from Kaitaia to Invercargill came to a new understanding of the significance of the gospel in our nation’s bicultural history. The journey has been significant for many reasons.

The gospel was invited — not imposed. De-colonisation therefore doesn’t have to mean ‘de-Christianisation’. The gospel was spread by Māori to Māori, and throughout the length of our nation. While we have missionaries who should be hailed as ‘heroes’ for the good they did, many of our most amazing heroes of faith were Māori chiefs and leaders who embraced the principles of love and grace from the gospel, and in the hardest of circumstances. Ways of violence turned to peace. A treaty was put in place to stop or hinder the colonisation of Māori. Incredible courage and grace was shown as that treaty was terribly betrayed. We have learnt many things, and these are important things.


However, this can now be undermined.

Some feel the Treaty is being politicised. The topic is so sensitive it can barely be mentioned. The effects are rarely spoken of, but they are real. Meanwhile, there is something valuable here to protect and sustain.

As a possible approach for consideration:

1. The land issues are easy 

Our nation could give many times the compensation to our Māori, and it still wouldn’t be anywhere near what was lost. We spend about 50 billion dollars6 on social security (pensions) and welfare annually — while we allocated 2 billion as a nation for Treaty settlements for all time. It is an expression of grace from Māori to the Crown when Treaty settlements are accepted. 


2. Some of the governance issues are very difficult

To take sides strongly is likely to divide churches, because the issues are ‘alive’ and being fed in public debate and opinion in this season. Many don’t know what to think. Some have strong views — in different directions. This might need time. 


3. The gospel issues are important 

Simply hearing a story of great faith and grace by one of our tipuna / ancestors is enough to cause some Māori to turn to Jesus — because it re-frames the way they see Jesus in relation to colonisation. Meanwhile the same stories can cause non-Māori to change their views on aspects of our history, and to engage with a more open heart and mind.


So, let’s focus on what is most important! As the Church, we have a story to tell. Our job is to lift Jesus up. 

  • There will always be political division. Every nation has this. 
  • We all have a vote at election time, and can write to an MP.
  • None of us can control the outcomes.
  • We can however help people find Jesus — and that lasts forever.


It really is what′s most important!


Other blogs by Dave Mann on this general topic

(From oldest to newest)


5 self-print bulletin-booklets for your church 

  • Called ‘Then and Now’ – about outreach and our early bicultural story, to give to church members with the bulletin over a 5 week period here (These booklet also encourager support of the Hope Project – which takes some of these stories to the public square).


An easy-to-read option to educate yourself, elders, children’s and youth leaders – and then all members (children, youth and adults)

  • Consider the illustrated novel series: ‘The Chronicles of Paki – Treaty of  Waitangi Series’. These can be found at BigBook.nz. View a blog with displaying some of its endorsements here.


Waitangi weekend sermon outlines (free)

  • ‘Three Treaties’ (Gibeonites, Waitangi and Jesus) from Dave Mann is (word doc) here, with power point here
  • Waitangi Weekend sermon – ‘Leaving a legacy’ – edited – with thanks to Keith Harrington (word doc)  here
  • Waitangi Weekend sermon – ‘Joshua and the Treaty (five treatise)’ –  edited – with thanks to Keith Harrington (word doc) here


The Te Reo Pulpit Challenge


DAVE MANN. Dave is a networker and creative communicator with a vision to see an understanding of the Christian faith continuing and also being valued in the public square in Aotearoa-New Zealand. He has innovated numerous conversational resources for churches, and has coordinated various national nationwide multimedia Easter efforts purposed to open up conversations between church and non-church people about the Christian faith and its significance to our nation’s history and values. Dave is the Producer of the ‘Chronicles of Paki’ illustrated NZ history series created for educational purposes, and the author of various other books and booklets including “Because we care”, “That Leaders might last” and “The Elephant in the Room”. Married to Heather, they have four boys and reside in Tauranga, New Zealand.

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