Waitangi Day Mass and blessing and recognition of the gift of the Hata Maria Shrine

See photos from the special Waitangi Day Mass and Blessing and Recognition of the gift of the Hata Maria Shrine, and read Archbishop Paul’s homily from the Mass.

On Tuesday 6 February 2024, a special Mass for Waitangi Day was held, which also included the Blessing and Recognition of the gift of the Hata Maria Shrine at St Mary’s of the Angels, following the installation of precious Taonga gifted to Hata Maria from Ta Mark Solomon.



Archbishop Paul Martin’s Homily – Waitangi Day 2024

Today in our country of Aotearoa New Zealand people will gather to remember and celebrate, as we are doing together, Waitangi Day.  It is a day for us to reflect on our past, to give thanks for what has been, to ponder where we are at in our present age, and to look with hope for the future in our country.  For us as Christian people, followers of Jesus Christ, it is a chance to reflect on where God has been at work in the people of this land, both at the time of the signing, but also in the time before it.  We reflect on the movement of faith in this land since the parties signed this agreement and what it has meant for our country since, in terms of the life of God at work in this beautiful land which we have the privilege of living in.  This day has much for us to be thankful for, as well as for us to ponder what may be needed in the future.

The readings for today are the ones for the fifth week of Ordinary time.  I thought it was very inspired that the first reading deals with the great king Solomon.  We are blessed to have a man amongst us today who also carries that name and who has gifted us the pounamu for our image of Te Ara a Maria.  And look what Solomon’s prayer was to the Lord on that occasion – he thanked God for his faithfulness to the covenant he made with his people, that he had made them his people and remained faithful to them, even when they had been less than faithful.  Solomon recognised the generosity of God making himself known to his people and showering them with kindness as they staggered along the way trying to be faithful themselves, trying to walk in the way of the Lord.  Solomon knew that they were a motley crew who were not overly successful or consistent in their living of this relationship with God, but God never gave up on them.  Indeed, God would constantly forgive them for their lack of faithfulness, or their lack of consistent living as his people.

On this day, as we reflect as a nation on the Treaty of Waitangi and what it began for our country, many of the same images and realities may be applied to us.  We believe that the intention was good and desirous of a nation of peace where all people would live together with respect for one another.  We know that this did not always eventuate in terms of the relationship between the Crown and the Māori people, there were times of great distrust and even war.  We know that as a nation we have been trying to address the mistakes of the past, the bad decisions and the harmful effects of them on the people of this land.  Like the relationship between God and his people we know it is only with forgiveness in our hearts, with a desire to maintain that relationship in good faith that we as a nation will be able to move forward and work for the good of all people.

As a church community we have been part of this relationship from the beginning.  Bishop Pompallier, along with his Anglican brothers, were present at the signing, and the Church has tried to be faithful to this, to build on-going relationships with all parties of the Treaty.  The first missionaries came to the country to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people of this land, and the Māori people recognised that God had been at work in their culture before this Good News came, and the revelation of who Jesus Christ was and is was easy for them to understand and believe in, because the Holy Spirit had already sown the seeds of the things of God in their hearts.

That is why we see this day, not as a political commemoration, but one of covenant between peoples, just as Solomon did with God.  It is why we want to work in our present day to ensure that there is justice for all, that the wrongs of the past are made right, that the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi and all that lies behind it is not abandoned or watered down or talked away.  We know it can be difficult at times, but like the relationship of the chosen people to their God, like our own relationships with each other, like the relationship between ourselves and God, it requires forgiveness, and healing and the willingness to work at it, to walk together in this path.

On this day, as we welcome the Taonga of the pounamu which will stand beside our blessed mother, we are reminded that we are of this earth as well as of heaven above.  We are linked through this land to one another, and we call upon the Mother of God, Mary to pray and be with us in our land and at this time in particular.  We ask her intercession for us that this country of ours will be a place of harmony and justice and fairness for all who live here.  And at this time that those who have the roles of leadership in our country will have open hearts and minds and ears so that they may help us all to understand who we are and what we are called to be.

In the opening prayer of the Mass there were three elements we prayed for:

Firstly, we acknowledged that God led us to this land, Māori and also other people.  We prayed that we would fulfil the destiny of our lives, that the plan of God for each one of us will be fulfilled in this land, making this a holy land.  We prayed that we are able to heal the wounds of the past and that we will be drawn together in true justice and love as the people who God has called to this land.  It is a beautiful prayer of hope and of reality.  It might be a good prayer to say each day of this year, reminding us of our own role in bringing this about and in the power of God working in others as well for this to happen.

May Te Atua bless our country this day, and may we grow stronger in our desire to be people of God and brothers and sisters in faith to all who dwell in this land.