Ahakoa te roa o te po, ka awatea.
No matter how long the night is, the light will surely come.
On April 10 and 11 I joined 19 others in what would prove to be an empowering two-day workshop on the Treaty of Waitangi led by Robert Consedine.
A passionate and knowledgeable facilitator, Robert created a comfortable learning environment in which we covered cultural identity, honouring our stories, origins of New Zealand settlement, pre-treaty New Zealand history, the Treaty of Waitangi, post-treaty legislation, Parihaka, assimilation, consequences of colonisation, sovereignty debate/self-determination, Waitangi Tribunal claims settlements and current treaty issues and implications for the future.
Parts of the workshop were extremely moving with stories from those who in the past had felt a loss of identity and struggled to discover who they were. Other areas stirred up mixed emotions within our diverse group that encouraged much conversation and debate. Above all, the entire workshop was extremely awakening and crucially educational for all who attended.
For me personally, it was great to be involved in such a positive movement that illustrated to those who are not as educated on the Treaty of Waitangi, that the treaty is not solely about Māori people reclaiming land and it is not only an ‘historic’ document—it is in fact a ‘living’ document that should therefore be honoured.
Through personal sharing of identity and whakapapa (ancestry), and exploring our cultures, we began to build a picture of what makes us the unique, whole beings God created us to be. As a result of knowing who we are, we discovered what made us comfortable and in which environments we were able to communicate, learn and grow.
Obviously for Māori in the past there has been a lack of these comfortable environments often resulting in a negative outcome.
However, I am hopeful that, through education in workshops such as this, more people will begin to realise that being Māori is an asset not a liability. We should celebrate this and increase our knowledge and understanding of the fact so as to make positive change from the past and create a more positive light for the future.
As a young Māori Catholic I feel the information learnt through this workshop is key in my spiritual development and understanding of who we people of Aotearoa are.
To be Catholic is to live justly—to live justly is to honour the Treaty.
I am very blessed and grateful for the taonga Robert has given me to place in my kete o te wananga, strengthening my mana and personal growth.
Robert and his daughter, Joanna (pictured below), have together written a book titled Healing Our History: The Challenge of The Treaty of Waitangi (2005, reprinted 2006 – ed).
I encourage everyone to source this book and share in the opportunity the workshop has given me and those who attended.
Chanel Hoera is youth minister for St John’s College, Hastings, and Sacred Heart College, Napier.