Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand Waitangi Day 2024 Message: Pursuing Unity Amidst Division

by Jason Woo

In New Zealand, 6 February marks Waitangi Day which honours the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi), between Maori (Tangata Whenua) and the British Crown in 1840. The treaty included terms to retain and preserve specific rights of the indigenous communities in the face of a growing European presence in New Zealand in the late 19th century. It strove to characterise and contextualise the relationship between both peoples as one of partnership.

Enshrined within the treaty is also the understanding that the Church recognises the bicultural partnership that exists between the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and the other churches of the land as they work together for God’s mission and purpose.

However, recent times have seen echoes of political voices of dissent that questioned the relevance of the treaty. In response to this segment of incendiary rhetoric, the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand has issued a message for the upcoming Waitangi Day to assuage and calm fraying local emotions.

The message, written by the Right Rev. Rose Luxford, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, is a treatise on the importance and relevance of the 1840 Treaty. Rev. Rose reminded readers that the Church continues to stand in opposition to any forms of cultural monopoly on the interpretation or transmission of the Christian Gospel. She also affirmed the Church to be cross-cultural, that the Christian Gospel creates communities across cultures.

“We honour the Treaty, [and] see relationship [to be] at the heart of how we operate: relationship between Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti (all others who have come here). We uphold respect for and the worth of people of other cultures,” penned Rev. Rose.

The message concluded on a note of Christian hope that despite the spirit of divisiveness that is present in the country, the church continues to “pray for, and seek to action in our own contexts, justice, equity, respectful dialogue, attentive listening to others, finding ways forward that honour all people, and living out our faith as followers of Christ – the one who came to bring fullness of life to all people.”

Download the full message HERE.


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