09 Feb, 2024 Final reconciliation – a pathway

This article explains says things I avoided saying the past few years because tensions around ‘governance’ as it pertains to The Treaty / Te Tiriti were still brewing, and the exact position of the ‘battle line’  / dividing line on the topic wasn’t yet clear.

The below isn’t a small thought. While few might read it, it summarises decades of thought – and the summary points are significant.

If tensions around Te Tiriti / The Treaty are ever to be reconciled I also believe it will be specifically because of the involvement of Christians. This is to say, the way forward will come from character and values, not legislation.

I also believe a clear end-point for Treaty negotiations and claims (which we clearly don’t yet have) can exist. This is a huge point. This would include a level of restoration of both mana-whenua (the mana of the land) and mana-Māori (the mana of Māoridom – reaching a point in which Māori can again forge their own path rather than feeling like victims, dependent on others to help them stand or to feel sufficiently whole or ‘validated’).

Regarding what has influenced my thinking – I think it was Matua John Komene.  I’ve held a clear view on The Treaty / Te Tiriti for over 30 years. I’ve rarely shared my thoughts because they used to be radical. (They no longer are – but read on, and you can tell me!). I suspect Matua John Komene influenced me more than I realised. John was a respected Ngāpuhi kaumatua from Kaikohe – who was also an outstanding gospel preacher. He travelled the world as an evangelist. In his later years he’d attend hui preaching the gospel weekend after weekend. He came to lecture at Laidlaw College and I had the privilege of being able to attend every class I could under him during my three years there. He was a man of truth, grace and love.

But don’t think you know my conclusions already because of this Ngāpuhi influence. (Ngāpuhi is the Iwi of 1000 viewpoints).

I believe the Church holds the keys to a solution – which the Government will never achieve.

Context first:

Examples of the confusion we now face


I sit at a Waitangi Dawn service on Waitangi day as a younger Iwi leader politicises the occasion, supporting all things Labour while criticising the current Government. As many as 6 following speakers tautoko what was said. It was foolish and biased – yet done out of ignorance. They suggest the Government want to diminish, ignore and remove the Treaty /  Te Tiriti. This isn’t the case. The entire conversation was a ‘straw man’ argument.

The poor National MP then gets to speak. There is clear tension. He says very little – being new to the role, and maybe insufficiently acquainted with the stories to find a couple to share in a way that reflects belief and imparts hope.

The opposition MP then speaks – celebrating the ‘balanced’ history education she believes the prior Government created, that gives full voice to certain Iwi spokespeople (selected by those who control the funding), and to no others. The irony was laughable. NZers are not taught anything yet regarding where their cultural values enabling the levels if prosperity, freedom, equality and charity we have came from. One aspect of our history is taught, and this is very good. I celebrate that – and personally am involved in creating history resources for it! But there is no way we yet have actual NZ history education in our schools. We have a first component of it!

In a speech at the dawn service the Crown is told it’s doing wrong, and that it has responsibility to lead. But in the next sentence the Crown is told it doesn’t need to be involved and should ‘get out of the way’ because we Māori can be the solution for ourselves.

  • I’m not sure how many saw the contradiction.
  • Anger at the crown – who has to do everything, and has to get out of the way.

Regarding emotional health I point out that any solution in which I am dependent on the actions of another to be whole, is unhealthy. A person in prison can feel free – while a person who is free can feel as-if in prison. The anger, pride, holding of one view, accusation, blame – and inherent dependence and ‘victimhood’ was more than unhealthy emotionally – even while being applauded y so many.

So, where was the good?

There was good!

The MC spoke with grace – and I know him to have strong Christian connections.  Also the pastor who shared the word / message spoke with all grace. It was amazing.

My point is that Christians bring a different Spirit – and it’s very clear in these circles, again and again, hui after hui, Waitangi Day after Waitangi Day!

>>> Christians bring hope!

Christians in Britain sat behind the British component of this treaty. The Christian message here had shaped cultural dynamics and values amongst Māori making space for a Treaty to protect Māori. Christians on the ground here also negotiated and represented this hope-filled effort, and it only gained traction because Māori trusted them (the missionaries).

Back at the Dawn Service I then observe how people treat each other afterward. On this occasion it was the National MP who was on the ‘out’ amongst the tensions. Who would even speak with him? I watch as the pastor speaks with him, and another Christian involved in organising the occasion – but I suspect few others did (I left before I could observe further). The patterns are clear.

>>> Christians bring peace and reconciliation – despite differences.

Any non-Christian watching could feel and see the difference, were their mind and heart alert. The same is true of the speeches up at Waitangi, as broadcast online.

>>> Christians instinctively build bridges.

So how do we actually build racial harmony?

>>> Our nation needs to allow the Spirit of Christ into this space!


The problem of an ever-moving goalpost



It is said that men usually marry with the hope their wife will never change – but she does. Women marry on the assumption their man will change – and he doesn’t.

As a man, were my wife to have an endless list of ways she hoped I’d change, that would bring tension to our marriage.  It would be draining, and I’d naturally pull back from her relationally and emotionally over time as a result.

It’s the same with the Treaty. If the assumption is (a) that Pākehā don’t understand – because of their skin colour, and (b) if the end goal isn’t clearly defined, it’s a never ending tension. What’s changing in NZ is that many NZers now realise this. Yes, the hurts ran deep – but if we consider family dynamics to illustrate the point, when someone near you holds onto a past hurt and can’t let go of it, its draining for you and them, and it’s going to undermine the health of your relationships!

There needs to be a clear goal. There needs to be a clearly defined end-point. We then address it!

The problem of blame

The Bible says children should not be held responsible for the sins of their fathers. To point the finger of blame at people of one skin colour – because people of that same skin colour did wrong in our history, is wrong. As a non-Māori, I can tell you that I’ve not felt welcome on Marae a number of times. I’ve felt judged. I’ve had no one talk to me. The anger is real – and its currently being projected at people on the basis of skin colour. In fact, I’ve experienced the unfortunate extreme end, with a need for physical protection from others – for no reason other than the colour of my skin. This will need addressing eventually – and the Spirit of Christ will yet-again be key to it.

The problem of widely ranging expectations around Te Tiriti / The Treaty

We also need to protect our culture from ‘over-enthusiasm’ and errant understandings of what the Treaty guarantees. For example, Te Tiriti doesn’t imply all NZers need to know Te Reo – even while Māori and all others desiring to speak the language are free to in the public square. I’d suggest being bicultural is instead about being comfortable with two different cultures, with an appreciation of small differences in protocol that might exist. So the goal isn’t church services that are half in Te Reo – to push the point. It’s about respect and recognition – allowing freedom for all. Within that environment of freedom, people then come together – and embrace the differences, learning about each other’s cultures – even while still being of their own.

The problem of bad leadership

Re our prior Government – leadership is always about leadership through change, taking the people with you. The prior Government failed in this. Many were admitted socialists, who believe in ‘big Government’. They ruled the same way, dictating what we were to do through legislation, ‘…because it is right!’. They didn’t bring the people with them!

It’s possible to have a good goal – but a wrong approach. I suggest this is what happened. Regarding Te Tiriti / The Treaty and bicultural things, they ignored the public and forced their way by rule of law. It is only natural that there is a reaction to this. Sometimes we have to go backwards before we go forwards.

Two areas that need a reconcilliation

I see two areas from The Treaty / Te Tiriti that need addressing – in terms of wrongs that have been done. One is land / the whenua, and the other relates to self-governance / rangatiratanga.



The way to ‘compensate’ as a part of an apology is simple. Give money or land.

Re what is given to Māori in Treaty settlements, these are stated as ‘full and final settlements’.  Amounts given are small compared to what was lost. Acceptance of these is more an expression of grace from Māori than of generosity from the Crown. What was taken can never be returned and the wrong never put right. There can only be sincere apology – with the need for forgiveness.

The words ‘full and final’ are important – noting my illustration of a wife ever-wanting her husband to be different.

Settlements are therefore an aid to healing – but they cannot bring the healing. Only Māori can do that, and it is a matter of the heart. It is specifically a matter of forgiveness.

But how do you love if you haven’t known love? How do you forgive if you’ve never experienced great forgiveness? Other religions are not the same. Christianity holds the keys. Where does this great power for reconciliation come from? We love because he (God) first loved us. We forgive because we have been forgiven.

In speeches on days like Waitangi Day, the words of Christians as contrasted with non-Christians are sometimes like ‘chalk and cheese’. One group speaks with vision and hope – while the other with anger and the pointing of the finger, calling for reconciliation while feeding a division in which all blame is on the other, as also all required effort to fix the problem.

Christian Māori and non-Māori alike speak with the same spirit.

We are the glue!

The Church has a role to play here

  • …telling the stories
  • … helping people see a different future.



This second component was not discussed so much 30 years ago – because we were only then beginning to address the taking of the land.

This second component is not guaranteed in the direct words of the Treaty – but instead in its assumptions. Hence the phrase ‘principles of the Treaty’.

A high level of self-Government for Māori is inherent to the Treaty / Te Tiriti. This sits within the recognition that the chiefs would still be great (tino rangatiratanga) – even while what they retain is all under a common national law (Government / Article 1). How do we ‘settle’ this?

The way to compensate is not as easy as with the land.

These comments will require careful thought, and also grace to not take quick offence at the first things said – to consider the entire picture painted.

  • With 30 years of thought, this is my concluding understanding – with the current confusion and divisions in view.

How do we make right the loss of a potentially  high (though undefined) level of self-Government Māori were guaranteed to have – all while still sitting under a common national law (Article 1) – as per Article 2 of The Treaty / Te Tiriti? To articulate the problem: Because chiefs governed their communities on their land – as the land disappeared, so did the context of the village / Pā from which they governed. The involvement of Māori in the national Government / Parliament was also unequal and unjust – which was a clear breaking of the third article of the Treaty (which guaranteed equal treatment for all).

I suggest this is where the idea of ‘co-governance’ has come from. I suggest co-governance isn’t inherent to Te Tiriti / The Treaty – except in the sense that all would be equal and have opportunity to be equally involved. (As noted, that didn’t happen).

As a side point – while co-governance isn’t in the Treaty (a high level of self-governance is), co-governance can however be a part of a solution in a given context, e.g. the returning of a national park to Iwi, which that  Iwi then manages in partnership with the Department of Conservation. To note it, this therefore refers to co-governance of specific assets – as contrasted with a national Governmental level of authority.

Co-governance is therefore a partial solution to the problem of restoring a high (but never complete) level of self-Governance, because the context of the latter is now gone!

to summarise again – because the ideas here will be new to many, and also don’t ‘comply’ with current popular rhetoric that we can easily be caught up in: The treaty – in Article 2 – talks about ‘the great chiefs’ – clearly implying a retention of a high level of their mana – even while (and this point is also important) this was still under a common national law as is made clear by Article 1.

(In case of confusion – toward the idea of the complete independence of Māori, to note it, the authority of the Crown at the national level is also implicit to the wording of the introduction to the treaty, and also the contexts of articles 2 and 3 in which various rights and guarantees are given. We therefore have two things held in balance: The authority of the Crown – and an assumed high level of self management by chiefs over their own people on their own land – all while still under that common national law.

For clarity on the context

  • Britain were the unquestioned global superpower, and everyone knew it – even if some didn’t like it.
  • Various Māori chiefs could see the writing on the wall. Even Ruatara, on the ship with Marsden in 1814, commented on his ‘fears’ that the Pākehā might one day come and take over entirely. Māori were small and weak compared to the might of European civilisation (as also others like the Chinese – had their shipping ability been on par).
  • What was proposed in the treaty was difficult for the chiefs because bringing another authority into your land is a big deal! It’s all about trust! We concurrently cannot forget that this had also reached a point of necessity – which is why it was happening, Māori were going to lose potentially everything if they didn’t have this treaty, bringing Britain into the picture to establish law and order for all – and protections from others, like the French, who were also already there. Settlers were coming, and Britain had no jurisdiction in New Zealand to enforce any boundaries on their behaviour, or wider protections across the whole land, unless invited.

Here are some other significant reflections – that bring a context to what was being guaranteed

  • Māori abilities in bringing Government (nationally let along regionally) were decades shy of anything comparative to what Britain could bring. I once read the comment, ‘If the treaty had been attempted 30 years earlier it would never have come about – while if it had been attempted 30 years later it might have worked.’ Many Māori chiefs were hardly even a decade out of a culture of tribal feudalism (fighting). There was – as yet – no ability to bring about national unity, or a national rule of law. The ‘Te Wakaminenga’ (confederation of Chiefs) was a significant movement. Many chiefs were uniting. But this needed more time – and time is what they didn’t have!
  • Regarding Government and Sovereignty – we have to accept that the meaning of words has been changed to mean various things in recent decades. This word is the primary one causing and feeding confusion around The Treaty / Te Tiriti. Sovereignty infers unrestrained authority – with nothing over it. Given that Article 1 gives Britain authority to establish a national Government the chiefs clearly didn’t have ‘Sovereignty’ – if we are to take the English meaning of the word. While ‘Rangitaratanga’ can infer sovereignty, the actual word for sovereignty is Kingitanga.
    • (Kingitangi isn’t used in Article 2, and one reason it didn’t make it into Article 1 could be because there was a Queen on the throne, necessitating the word Kuinitanga – which may not have carried the same sentiments. This is one small point only though. A wider study on the use and meaning of words in that time, including comparisons to He Whakaputanga – the Declaration of Independence, is needed).
  • The wider meaning of Rangitiratanga includes leadership, autonomy to make decision and self-determination.
  • With the context considered – which is vital to an understanding of ALL words ever used – what I believe the chiefs were being guaranteed was “a HIGH LEVEL of independence to rule their own people on their own land – even while under a common national law.” If the treaty is viewed as a whole, I suggest this is clear, even though it is not clearly stated as occasion had not yet arisen necessitating it being stated.
  • For a further definition – to define the limits of tribal independence: Inherent to the guarantees of the Treaty / Te Tiriti it’s clear that national law would affect areas like trade (purchase of land being an example), international trade, taxation / economics and criminal law. What was being guaranteed was therefore a ‘level’ of self-determination in the context of both accepting and applying common national laws. For an easy example, consider a local councils regional jurisdiction – under common national law.
  • For clarity on the meaning of words I note that, just as managing a business is the exercise of the authority of the owner of that business, governing a land is the exercise of the authority of the Sovereign. The concepts and connection between the two things aren’t complicated – if not for 30 years of rhetoric and the confusing of the meaning of words in our own nation, as various ones have tried to define exactly what was guaranteed – to know its fair and just limits.

The above therefore clarifies a viewpoint that is radically in favour of giving much more to Māori – while defining a clear goal and end-point and limit – not including giving completely independent Government as if Māori would no longer be under the Government of the land (Article 1).

  • This claim to an even greater independence or right in national Government by nature of race is the point on which there is now so much confusion.
  • This is fed by the errant (and sometimes deliberately deceptive) use and redefining of important English words.

How then do we return this ‘self-governance’?

For an example of a principle: Consider the Government declaring all education was to be in English. Had justice been justice, the Chiefs speak up and say, “No – we want to educate in Te Reo Māori”. I believe this would have been allowed. Because a process didn’t exist to create the 1000 sub-laws needed to define what the Treaty / Te Tiriti meant in practice, Māori were walked over.

  • But they would have retained a right to educate their own – in their own language – to make a first point.

I suggest the inference is that all things under ‘Welfare’ could plausibly have been left with Chiefs – governing their own people on their own land – even while under the common national law.


  • Health
  • Education
  • Oranga tamariki / intervention in significant family problems or cases of abuse
  • Possibly the passing on of (management) of welfare checks to those in state care / support / unemployment.
  • Potentially some of the ‘policing’, applying law and justice – though only in line with the common national law on each matter.

To give all this to Iwi would be very messy, and difficult. I simply suggest that that’s the Governments problem – because the goal here is to try to define the scope of what might be just and right.

This isn’t about a new idea. This is simply about trying to define the plausible limits of what is and isn’t guaranteed.

The above would be about giving Māori the option to again govern their own people in certain areas – which is already happening, to note it.

Regarding how this is administrated, as just one example, an ‘opt in / opt out’ system could apply. E.g. my Iwi set up a health system that I can participate with – or the public system. The point is simply that this could be possible. The idea isn’t impossible.

  • Messy – yes.
  • But it honours the agreement we made – while defining needed limits.

Within the mix, as trust grew, many Iwi would recognise that trying to be independent in all these areas is actually impractical. Without any demeaning of Māori intended in this illustration – it’s like a teenager defying their parents, establishing their right to be independent – after which they return to partner with their parents (interdependence).

  • Because Māori were subjugated (culturally speaking), the ‘over-expression’ of independence for a season is part of a natural process.

Concluding statements

I suggest the above honour the ‘spirit’ and principle of the treaty. It addresses the need for a restoration of both mana-Māori and mana-whenua.

It also clarifies the primary point of current confusion around ‘sovereignty’ – which is important to get behind us (eventually) – because it is the fuel of division.

It also gives us an end-point, saving us from a never-ending tension – as per my illustration of a wife who wants her husband to change in a never-ending list of ways. Non-Māori can be freed from the feeling of an ever-changing goal post.

Māori can also be freed from the ‘conviction’ and ‘jail sentence’ that the ‘victim mentality ‘ the Treaty process naturally (although unintentionally) created is! Any person who places their value and hope and future in the hands of others is a slave.  While there is a natural process here, the only hope for Māori rests with Māori – with or without any recompense or recognition from the Government. We have plenty of other people in NZ who lost everything – fleeing terrible circumstances, losing all possessions, while being forced to flee their cultural home. They live free lives – because they have worked out how to reconcile the matter in their hearts! It has been more painful for Māori maybe in the sense that they still live on the land that was taken. This is a constant reminder of the loss. However, the principles remain. This is the season in which mana-Māori needs restoring. No one can help Māori to stand in the way they’d like to – except Māori.

And where does that power to heal and forgive come from? The heart of this matter is  a matter of the heart. The Treaty / Te Tiriti is not the hope for Māori. The Spirit of Jesus is – enabling forgiveness, healing, wholeness and hope!

And so we come full circle to the role Christians have to play – because we carry the Spirit of Jesus! This is evident every time a Christian speaks on a Marae, or at a Waitangi event. The difference is clear!

Without Jesus there would be no Treaty, and no conversation to be had. Without Jesus, a culture of war, revenge, infanticide and human sacrifice would have continued – and I’m talking about amongst the Celts of England here, not just amongst Māori! There would have been no missionaries with a message of peace – because their cultural roots in Europe (amongst the Celtic, Nordic and Germanic peoples)  would have been still no different to what was here – if not for Jesus!

Jesus is the one who made the difference for us all – and regarding Te Tiriti, Jesus is the ‘glue’, enabling a turning of hearts, giving power to love and forgive, enabling a new path!

May God’s Church arise as peacemakers and storytellers, building bridges, sharing a vision of hope – connecting people to Jesus who alone can turn the heart making a person truly free!

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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