Thursday, February 06, 2014

from Waitangi to Walking on Country

Today is Waitangi Day in my homeland. On this day in 1840, a Treaty was signed between Maori people of New Zealand and the Queen. While it is a times a contested document, it stills stands as a seminal moment in the history of New Zealand and in how two people’s might relate to each other. Over the years of my time of ministry in New Zealand, it provided a rich ground for reflection – in sermons, in prayer, in communion.

Today, here at Uniting College, in Adelaide, Australia, is the start of Walking on Country. It might be coincidence, but I don’t think we’d be Walking on Country without Waitangi Day, without the energy that Rosemary Dewerse and myself, both New Zealanders, both Missiologists, both shaped by being Kiwi, being Christian, both now here at Uniting College, have poured into this.

Today a group of about 20 people headed off to the Flinders Ranges, to the land of the Adnyamathanha people. They will be led by local indigenous leaders, to be in their world, to hear their stories. It is the 2nd year we as a College have run this. (See here and here and here).

It was a few days that had more impact on our life as a College in 2013 than any other few days that year. New insights, new relationships (including Pilgrim Uniting), new sensitivity. Thanks Waitangi Day, for pushing us toward Walking on Country.

Posted by steve at 11:08 AM


  1. Kia kaha Aotearoa!!

    I lived in Darwin for a time and spent several interesting days soon after my arrival in that city in sitting and walking and weaving with various Larrakia women through Nungalinya College. I later received a skin name (moiety) and worked briefly in East Arnhem Land with the Northern Synod of the Uniting Church. These experiences, as well as that of being an Aussie in London and away from my land while strangely feeling kinship to the green hills and grey skies, have made me very aware of the land upon which I walk.

    My current island home, “Karta” in the local language, was uninhabited at the time of European “discovery” but was soon peopled with indigenous sex slaves kidnapped from the mainland Kaurna, Peramangk and Ngarrindjeri peoples and Pallawah and Lia Puta from Trowenna. To walk therefore on land which the First Peoples deliberately chose not to walk on, or were specifically transported to be enslaved upon, is troubling.

    Comment by Damien — February 6, 2014 @ 11:48 am

  2. It was good to learn a little more about Waitangi Day while visiting NZ at Christmas time. The story in NZ is so different to the Australian story…….I went on a tour in the Bay of Islands where we listened to some Maoris and I experienced in a new way how different our stories are.

    Comment by Jenny B — February 8, 2014 @ 9:06 pm

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