Waitangi, the Elephant in the Motu

We've asked one of our trustee's, Alistair Reese, to blog about his every-day experiences as a man on a reconciling mission... insights from the heart ... justice on the journey... He honore ki te Atua, Maungarongo ki te Whenua, Whakaaro pai ki nga tangata katoa! (Glory to the Creator, Peace to the earth, Goodwill to all people!) Tihei wa mauriora!

It’s that time of year again, when the ‘elephant in the motu’ makes its appearance. I am referring to the nation’s commemoration of Te Tiriti or the Treaty of Waitangi on February 6th. This year, however, the ‘elephant’ might trumpet more regularly because it happens to be 175 years since the signing, and perhaps even more importantly, because the Constitutional Advisory Panel’s recommendations on a Constitution, which were tabled in 2013, will be considered by the Crown. Although the Government has given no clear timetable yet for constitutional reform it is clear that the Treaty will be a major talking point. Indeed, one of the recommendations of the Advisory Panel to the Government is that it: ‘develops a national strategy for civics and citizenship education in schools and in the community, including the unique role of the Treaty of Waitangi, te Tiriti o Waitangi, and assign responsibility for the implementation of the strategy…’

A question. How will these recommendations be received by the wider populous?

Perhaps somewhat simplistically I suggest with regard to Te Tiriti, “the populous” might be characterized in the following way. To some, February 6th is simply an opportunity to enjoy a day free of work or school responsibilities, with scarcely a thought to the holiday’s raison d’etre.  I would call this group the agnostic or silent majority – without any clear perspective on Waitangi, and even an ambivalence towards the Treaty conversation.

The other two other groups hold stronger opinions; they are numerically less than the silent majority and occupy positions that are diametrically opposed to each other.

One of these groups, made up of mainly Pākehā and later settlers, holds that the Treaty is merely an historical or cultural artefact, and one which is presently an aberration in our national commemoration calendar. In their view, it privileges on the basis of ethnicity and has the potential to divide a nation that holds a proud record of race relations. The refrain from this group proposes that Waitangi is a Trojan horse for a system of apartheid in Aotearoa NZ – this narrative continues the negative tenor of the 1877 pronouncement by Justice Prendergast that the Treaty is a “simple nullity”, or Donald Brash’s 2004 Orewa Nationhood speech, where he iterated that the document had passed its ‘used by date’ and implies that it is an unsuitable reference point for any Constitutional discussions.

The third group – a mixture of Māori, Pasifika and Pākehā, argues that the Treaty is an inviolable document, the founding document of this land and one that is not only worthy of annual commemoration but one that needs to be at the centre of any Constitutional formulation. This position is exemplified by the Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson, who says: ‘The Constitution needs to fall out of the Treaty, not the other way around’. In other words the Treaty is the cornerstone from which any talks on the Constitution should proceed.  To use an analogy from te ao Māori, Te Tiriti is the tuakana, and the Constitution is the teina – the Constitution is the younger sibling that needs to acknowledge the Treaty’s elder status.

In my view the third group is on solid ground, for reasons that I shall explore in future posts. This February 6th, with many others, I shall make the annual pilgrimage to Waitangi to engage with ‘the elephant’ kanohi ki te kanohi. I look forward to hearing its sound. Perhaps I shall see you there!

Alistair Reese

History is Now

... A people without history 
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern  
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails  
On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel 
History is now and England.

T.S.Eliot, 'Little Gidding', The Four Quartets.

I grew up just down the road from Burtt Rd on the northern outskirts of Pukekohe (a town now on the southern outskirts of the City of Auckland). This fact has not struck me as important until quite recently, when I discovered that in the vicinity of Burtt Rd, at Burtt’s farm, an encounter between Maori and Pakeha settlers took place in September 1863. This was about the closest the Waikato war of 1863-64 got to Auckland. Just down the road from my place, where my parents, grandparents and uncles and aunties still live, Maori and Pakeha skirmished in a fairly minor affray of the New Zealand Wars. A minor affray, perhaps, but part of the drama that unfolded when Governor Grey gave the order for troops to cross the Mangatawhiri stream in July 1863, sparking the conflict with the King Movement that took many hundreds of lives over the two years that followed. Confiscations of prime Waikato real estate followed. The New Zealand Government or Crown only came to terms with this history in 1995 when it settled with Waikato-Tainui.

Von Tempsky – Attack on Burtts’ Farm in 1863 Hocken Library, University of Otago. Reference: 12,513

But has New Zealand society come to terms with it? The year 2014 has just closed. It marked the 150 year commemorations of many of the key conflicts of the Waikato war, and thus the NZ Wars, still to see many 150 year battle commemorations over the next few years. Yet have we, as a society, remembered these foundational conflicts in our national story? Hardly. Maori media covered the series of commemorations, but Pakeha media to my knowledge was almost silent.

It betrays a serious lack of engagement with our story that wider NZ society, Pakeha society in particular, has not turned up to remember these conflicts. As it stands, Pakeha collective memory really only reaches as far as Gallipoli and WW1/2. The nineteenth century foundations of modern NZ are like a void for most NZers. How tragic.

It was not always like this. Historian Dr Vincent O’Malley recently gave a lecture that recalled the history of NZ Wars commemorations. The 50th and 100th commemorations were largely led by Pakeha  communities – when the storyline was still couched in the semi-comfortable terms of a conflict with the brave and noble Maori (who we nevertheless beat) that somehow brought us together. By contrast, the 150th Waikato war commemorations have been led mostly by Maori.

Something needs to change. Aotearoa NZ’s case of historical amnesia needs some major psychiatric treatment before we become a people truly in sync with both the good and bad realities of our national story. Of course, there is no one ‘national story’ – both the nation and a singular story are constructs. But how we construct that story, or how we remember who we are, is an interesting reflection of how we’re living out the realities of our past in our present. The past is not ‘the past’ – it is not something other than, separate from, our present.

This is a blog about how history is now. T.S. Elliot got it right for England. But where and how can history be now and New Zealand?

If you’re interested you can read an old account of the Burtt’s farm encounter here: http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Cow01NewZ-c30-1.html

Samuel Carpenter

Alistair’s Diary, no. 2

We've asked one of our trustee's, Alistair Reese, to blog about his every-day experiences as a man on a reconciling mission... insights from the heart ... justice on the journey... He honore ki te Atua, Maungarongo ki te Whenua, Whakaaro pai ki nga tangata katoa! (Glory to the Creator, Peace to the earth, Goodwill to all people!) Tihei wa mauriora!
Diary, Sept-Nov 2014


  • Celebration dinner with Ngāi Tamarawaho and Ngāti Tapu re passing of Otamataha Trust Bill in Parliament.
  • Meeting of Te Kohinga with Bishop Katene at Te Amorangi, Rotorua re Te Papa CMS block.
  • Skype meeting with NZ Christian Network re the Bicentenary Statement.
  • Wānanga with Ngāti Ranginui kaumatua re Te Reo.
  • Skype meeting Living Hope Board.
  • Mentor meeting with Laidlaw postgraduate Student, via Skype – Catherine Pearson
  • Cosmology paper preparation for Ngāti Ranginui Te Reo wananga.
  • Te Kohinga Meeting
  • Sunday Meeting at Edge Kingsland – NZ Identity.
  • Laidlaw student mentor Skype meeting.
  • Edge Kingsland: “Rua Rau” – spoke on Te Tiriti as Pākehā tūrangawaewae.
  • YWAM National Leaders Meeting in Paihia/Waitangi (3 days).
  • Inflame School of Worship – Arranged meeting with local kaumatua and whakatau for conference.


  • Link Churches: Earthed Conference at Cambridge (3 days) – NZ mission history and Identity.
  • Laidlaw mentor meeting.
  • Spoke at YWAM Bethlehem School.
  • Parihaka with Brad Haami to prepare for visit by English intercessors in early 2015. Visited the 3 houses: Te Niho, Te Paepae and Toroanui – favourable reception.
  • Waitara meeting with local kaumatua re English intercessors.
  • Laidlaw mentor meeting.
  • Met with CMS UK leaders Paul Mountstephen and Philip Thaxter in Hamilton re CMS block in Tauranga – favourable reception.
  • Centenary of St Paul’s Church in Rangiuru with Bishop Katene and Rev Manu Wihapi
  • Karuwhā Skype


  • Karuwhā workshop – Auckland.
  • Dunedin invited by Toitū – Otago Settlers Museum to participate in Parihaka Day (Nov 5) commemorations with Parihaka kaumatua and kuia.
  • Christchurch – spoke at Kotahitanga Conference, sponsored by Grace Vineyard, North City Church and Hope Presbyterian.
  • Spoke at North City Church.
  • Spoke at Kaiapoi Church.
  • Submitted paper for Alphacrucis conference: Gospel, Māori and Pentecost – ‘What does Pai Marire have to do with Pentecost?’. This is a missiological paper which considers Te Ua as a fruitful model for mission and indigenous theology.
  • Living Hope Trust Meeting.
  • Spoke at Venn on NZ Culture and History.
  • Thanksgiving Dinner !!!

The Rawene Chronicles

Interesting to review some times past. Here’s a couple of posts from a series of ‘chronicles’ which Sam and Hana Carpenter wrote from Hokianga back in 2008. An experience to treasure…

Karuwha Trust trustees Samuel and Hana Carpenter are this year (2008) hanging out in the Far North, at the beautiful little village of Rawene on the Hokianga harbour. The primary purpose of this Tai Tokerau retreat is to further their Maori language studies. This blog shares some of their experiences from this Northland adventure...

Continue reading “The Rawene Chronicles”

Alistair’s Whakaaro

We've asked one of our trustee's, Alistair Reese, to blog about his every-day experiences as a man on a reconciling mission... insights from the heart ... justice on the journey... He honore ki te Atua, Maungarongo ki te Whenua, Whakaaro pai ki nga tangata katoa! (Glory to the Creator, Peace to the earth, Goodwill to all people!) Tihei wa mauriora!
Alistair’s Diary, no. 1

Why not start with my record of activity in June and July? This kind of gives the flavour of my life at the moment…


  • Planning Henry Williams commemoration of Henry William’s visit to Tauranga Moana with James Muir (Te Kohinga), Rev Manu Wihapi (Anglican Minister, Te Puke) and Huikakahu Kawa, (Ngati Ranganui kaumatua).
  • Meeting with Glyn Carpenter and Tauranga Ministry Leaders re The Bicentennial Statement.
  • Meeting with Heeni Potene of Waitaha Kohanga Reo – discuss language revitalisation in Te Puke.
  • Met with Rev Manu Wihapi (Tapuika) to record his biography.
  • St Paul’s Church at Rangiuru – meeting with kuia and kaumatua.
  • Hairini Marae – planning for Williams Commmoration – enlist help of Ngai Te Rangi and Ngai Tamarawaho.
  • Contact with Dr. Rangi Nicholson (kaiwhakahaere of Te Amorangi Theology Centre, Rotorua) – bring him into loop re Te Papa plans.
  • Contact with Steve Maina (CEO CMS) re involvement with Williams Commeration.
  • Te Ranga Battle Commemoration – lead Te Kohinga delegation on the day. Discussed with Tom Roa and Ngahina Dixon re National Day Commemoration of NZ Wars.
  • Research on Henry Williams visit to Tauranga Moana in 1830s.
  • Presented paper at Commemoration of Williams visit to Pilot Bay in 1826.
  • Mentor meeting with Dietrich Sokai (South Auckland Poet’s Collective) in Auckland.



  • Merivale Community Centre – reo meeting.
  • Awanui Black re meeting in Tauranga with Ruakere Hond and Maata Wharehoka of Parihaka.
  • Sound and Vision Conference, Edge Kingsland.
  • Research on Te Ua Haumene for Mosaic and Conference.
  • Meeting with Karen Bishop in Hamilton. Discussion on possible wananga later in year.
  • Meeting with Fraser Hardy in Hamilton – re preparation for Mission Conference in October.
  • Te Kohinga Meeting – Tauranga.
  • Conference Abstract: What does Pai Marire have to do with Pentecost?
  • Research activities: Zephaniah and God’s dealing with the Nations.
  • YWAM DTS, Impact World Tour: Prophetic Heritage of Aotearoa NZ
  • Bible Surge – 1 Week involved in writing a Bible Commentary with David Hamilton of Kona YWAM.

Say It Again Sam!

Julie & Julia

Issue 1, 10 May 2010

Every once in a while a film inspires my humanity. I’m not talking about the super hero-thriller-Bourne Identity-Matt Damon-type inspiration. I’m talking about the genuine sense that the story unfolding before you is revealing something good and true about human experience. Call me soppy and chick-flicky, but I found Julie & Julia – featuring the superior acting talents of Meryl Streep and Amy Adams – to be that sort of film. Streep’s character plays the woman who brought French cooking to America – Julia Childs, while Adams’ character plays a woman who decides to cook her way through Child’s recipe book (500+ recipes) in 365 days – and write a blog about it every day.

Continue reading “Say It Again Sam!”