Waitangi Day

Hi all

It is strange to have kicked off the school term for three days, then have one day off, then one back on, then the weekend…a bit of a disjointed start really. 

I was talking with a new staff member about Waitangi Day. She asked whether we did anything with the students to commemorate the day. I said that teachers would generally prepare some lessons, resources, discussions etc. She then asked how we covered it "from a Catholic perspective". I have to say I was lost for a response, because we, and I would hazard a guess most Catholic primary schools, wouldn't do much in this area either. 

And yet we should – Bishop Pompellier's involvement in the treaty basically ensured religious freedom in this country. If for no other reason than historical, we should be making sure our children know that fact. I have resolved to do better in the future!

Put yourself in my shoes, as an educator working in 2014 – what would you teach about Waitangi day to your students that reflects a Catholic worldview?

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    Comments: 14

    1. Werahiko February 6, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Kia ora mo tenei whakaaro rangatira!

      History/geography/ social science:

      Missionary endeavour: Pompallier.(fascinating biography – now heis body is back here!) Map the locations of his birth, travels, death, and re-interment.


      Indigenous rights. Religious freedom. Just war theory (which condemns the later British/colonial NZ wars from 1860-1875). Conversion and cultural assimilation – not the same thing but often confused in the past – google Maori Madonna for illustration.

      Language: Treaty versions; French in NZ; how people like Pompallier learned Maori

      Culture: exercise: you are a Maori who has to give a speech or karanga of welcome to Pompallier. What would you say? You can do this in English, or in Maori of course. This means acknowledging his particular mana and its various origins – something like charisms – bishop, traveller, protector of rights, wearer of dramatic clothes etc.

      Kia mau!

    2. withhope February 6, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      When I was a kid in school at the this time of year the first term sort of started then stopped again for the long Waitangi Day weekend – it felt like a little pitstop of mercy before the day in day out of the school year proper kicked in (I remember reading somewhere that Germaine Greer left Australia because the Aboriginies had no such treaty of legal rights and recognition). What I remember from the news was protests about land. The Raglan golf course was high on the contention list at the time, so off the news and in the class room there was a narrative that if you have no tribal rights you were an alien. Growing up in the a middle of a north Island farming community, most of the land was still owned by old Maori families who would lease that land to farmers needing extra grazing during the winter. One Matriarch of a large Maori family that my father leased off-season land from told him, 'never let anyone call you a pakeha, it's a curse, ya know. Don't let them do it.' She looked out for people. Wasn't much interested in politicising into bedlam the calm of the land for the sake of innovations in ideology. Fortunately or unfortunately, I believed her and have felt uncomfortable with this blanket label 'pakeha' (she said it meant basically white pig which probably could coincide with a sentiment of American Indian term for aliens – wasichu (eats the fat, or greedy glutton).

      Don't know much about Bishop Pompallier:

      'Invited by William Hobson to witness the proceedings at Waitangi, Pompallier was determined to make sure that legal discrimination against Catholics, which had only just stopped in England in 1829, would not be present in the new colony of Aotearoa New Zealand. With the support of many Maori leaders, he insisted that a clause be added to the Treaty which would guarantee the right of religious freedom for all and of free and equal protection to Maori and other religious customs.'

      I don't imagine for a moment that this 'freedom' which was re-affirmed by Leo XIII, would have been indifference to religious error and making peace with the authority of false religions.

      History is so important. And having as our first alliegeance Christ and His Church.


      I don't know if you can elucidate on the origins of the word 'pakeha' as addressed to aliens, Werehiko, you seem to know your stuff? But the Matriarch of the acres, didn't seem like someone to make something up or the hell of it.

    3. Werahiko February 6, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      The word 'Paakehaa' to give it its correct long vowels, does not mean 'white pig" "white flea" "stranger" "bugger off" or any of the other fanciful meanings attributed to it. Most Maaori of the generation you are describing did not speak Maaori. That might explain the error of the kuia you describe. If you listen, you will hear Maaori describe their ancestors as 'Paakehaa". They would not do so if the word were considered offensive. Interestingly, the origins of the word are unclear, indicating its very early origin in the contact of Maaori and Paakehaa. It is probably related to words for mythical white-skinned 'fairy' people. The easiest way to find the meanng of a word is to look it up in the dictionary. There are several good online Maaori-english dictionaries. You won't find Paakehaa listed as offensive. The other issue is about the capitalisation of the word. Traditionally, Paakehaa has not been capitalised, by analogy with Jew and gentitle, on the grounds tht 'Jew' is the name of a people and gentile means 'non-Jew'. That's wrong, because Paakehaa are a people: New Zealanders of European descent and thir associated culture. Maaori, like others, have a number of ways of expressing distaste, contempt or anger, but calling people Paakehaa is not one of them!  Maaori, incidently, just means 'normal' or 'ordinary' as in "wai maaori" which is fresh water, as distinct from "wai maataitai" which is salt water. It can also mean 'inferior', but that is not what it means when applied to a people, or persons!

    4. Teresina February 7, 2014 at 12:03 am

      I would teach Waitangi Day in the context of Catholic history in New Zealand, and the arrival of Pompallier who set up a printing press and tanney in Russell to produce books and bible translation into Maori.  I would steer clear of the contentious aspects Maori radicals and focus on the positive aspects.

      As regards the term "pakeha", yes, growing up it was considered by many to be a derogatory term.  I would not agree with Werahiko.  I think the "Matriarch of a large Maori family" who leased land to your family was correct – the old Maori knew the truth and it is only in recent years that the term has been "white-washed".

      My mother also told me that Maori and Europen got on really well during her and my grandmother's time.  I am not saying that there wasn't the odd person who was racist, but racism, as we know it, only developed with the radical Maori/European groups and it is interesting that most of them are part-European anyway – the full-blooded Maori were not like them and would disown most of them.  At one stage the activists claimed that Maori weren't allowed to come past Otaki into Wellington.  Mum said that wasn't true because they all went to school with Maori.  Plus my great grandmother in Wellington was asked if when her baby was born would she give it to the local Maori – she didn't know the customs and so said, yes, and was shocked when they came for the baby after it was born.  So that shows that Maori were in Wellington in the late 1800s.

      To be honest, I don't celebrate Waitangi Day in any way shape or form and I don't watch the news on that day, simply because I am sick of the activists and I think they have now created a division between two people that once didn't exist. 

      I feel the day should be renamed New Zealand day because there are now so many different nationalities in this country that it would embrace all, rather than just Maori and European in the context of the Treaty and I think it might help overcome the divisions that are now fairly entrenched on both sides.

    5. withhope February 7, 2014 at 12:31 am

      Another interesting bit of history, teresina.


      I appreciate the reply werehiko; this lady (the matriarch) seemed like a hundred years old to me in the 70s. a real deal, in the best sense, relic, of an age blasted away by politics. when I think of VII and how it has refused to pass on to the hungry seeker that which was vouchsafed to those 'fathers' to pass on, I see betrayal writ large all over the Catholic Church of the new order. most Europeans let go their pagan past for the eternal riches of Christ's Church over a thousand years ago; then some centuries latter too many unfaithful sons decided to hide or discard the riches of that immortal inheritance for the sake of 'ecumenism' – read politics. life is short and hard,  always was, always will be, to pretend we've gained any freedom other than the right to distract ourselves into hell guilt-free post VII, is to pretend, seems to me. 'scuse the waxing lyrical. I think the bishops by and large of the past few generations have a lot to answer for with their preference for paganism, athiesm and the world in general, their fantasy of freedom.

    6. Dominican February 7, 2014 at 9:27 am

      An interesting read is "The French and the Maori" by Peter Lowe.  You can google Pompallier at the Treaty of Waitangi and it should bring you the Historic Places website which provides an exerpt from the book.  Seems the Catholics got on well with the Maori people – not so good with Rev Williams (he didn't like Papists) !

      Does anybody know the story of the tohunga who told his people "wait for the men who wear hats and dresses and have no wives – they bring the truth – I have heard the story told twice by a priest of the Hamilton Diocese who spent three months based at Rawene  some years ago.  It surely has a special place in the history of the Catholic Church in New Zealand  – because those Maori people did wait!

    7. Don the Kiwi February 7, 2014 at 11:08 am

      I agree with Werahiko on the meaning of 'Pakeha'. In the 1970's when living in Auckland I worked with a maori guy from the East Coast who was a university graduate with a couple of degrees – one of which was Polynesian/Maori Anthropolgy, and was highly qualified in this area. He told me it meant ' fair-skinned stranger' or 'visitor' – which gave the connotation of 'fairy' , 'spirit' or 'spook', but those connotations were not what was meant, and certainly had no derogatory meaning. 

      This is supported by my maternal grandfather who came to NZ in about 1910 and moved to Rotorua. Don Piper was from Cornwall and was of stocky build, swarthy skin, and a flat nose – an inheritance, he joked, from his Phoenician ancestors – the Phoenicias travelled form the eastern Mediterranean in ancient times and traded with the Cornish and did some fraternising, it seems.. He tanned up very dark, and had learnt to speak maori within two years through his close contact working with maori. There was even an argument between two of Pop Piper's maori friends, when one called him a pommie, the other objected and said he was maori. I believe the dispute was solved amicably :-) When I was a boy he would teach me maori words and songs and explain some of the ancient maori myths and legends to me and my brother. He served on Galipoli and in the trenches in France – but that's another story.

      I also agree with some of the sentiments expressed by Teresina. Unfortunately, the news media has a lot to answer for in turning Waitangi Day into a farce by encouraging protest, some perhaps justified, but the violence and lack of respect – insulting etc. – is not part of true maori culture and protocol. The other unfortunate thing about it is that Ngapuhi are starting to seem like they deserve more than other maori, and that – while protesting on a matter of principle- it appears that principle is for saie to the radical few. If the news media did not make it such a circus, much of the protest would die off, and any remaining grievance settled through sensible negotiation. I just wish for all the settlements and compensations can be resolved – as with Ngai Tahu and Tuhoi and  Tainui, then the country – and particularly Maori – can move on to a bright future, and stop living in the past.

    8. Teresina February 7, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Interestingly, Don, the word "Pakeha" is listed in a dictionary of offensive terms for people of different nationalities, along with "Frog", "Dago" etc   I know that growing up none of my family ever referred to themselves as "Pakeha" because it was definitely considered to be an offensive term for Europeans in New Zealand and meant "white pig".

      Since then there has obvoiusly been a move to make the term more widely accepted by saying it is not derogatory.  I prefer to believe what was passed on down the generations and I think the matriarch that Withhope refers to being Maori and saying the term was offensive would be in the best position to say.  I never refer to myself or anyone else as Pakeha.  I have no problem however if others wish to term themselves as "white pigs".


    9. Werahiko February 7, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      I hereby offer $100 to the SVdP if someone can provide me with a 19th-century reference to a Maaori using the word "Paakehaa" in a clearly derogatory way. This is a myth people. A damaging, harmful, hurtful, myth that undermines race reations every time it is repeated.

    10. withhope February 8, 2014 at 12:16 am

      God bless for maning up to the challenge, Werahiko. i'm probably more crusty ( older) than you, and so more cynical/aware of how the progenitor of porkies works. only saying that Christ vouchsafed us One Church, One Truth, One Mind, which seems to have been sold down the river using whatever means (maybe maaoritanga one of them) since Vii…and femenism…and ecumenism…and religious indifferentism…and communism…and inctulturationism…and a-historicism…and nowism…and there-aint-no-satanism…and INDIFFERENTISM…..




    11. withhope February 8, 2014 at 12:19 am

      p.s. WRHK, what does  svdp mean? 'scues my Ign.

    12. Teresina February 8, 2014 at 12:29 am

      Withhope Svdp is short for St Vincent de Paul … 

      Werahiko, you have the example of Withhope of a Maori matriarch saying it was a derogatory term.  To avoid offence the term should fall into disuse as some people people see it as racist and derogatory:


      Maori word or name for non-Maori New Zealander, specifically a white person and particularly of English/British descent, but including other English-speaking white people such as those of Dutch or Yugoslav ethnic origin.

      Sometimes now taken to mean any non-Maori New Zealander including those of ethnic Chinese and Indian origin, though not generally applied to Pacific Island peoples.

      The origins of the word are unclear and the subject of much controversy. Generally translated as referring to a white or pale appearance, pakeha has been variously described as meaning white pig, white maggot, or even white ghost, which may be in reference to the pakepakeha, a pale-skinned forest-dwelling people of pre-European Maori mythology.

      Today, some white New Zealanders embrace the term as a unique reference to themselves, some reject it as racist and derogatory, while others don't care either way. "


    13. Don the Kiwi February 8, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Collins Compact Dictionary – 21st.century Edition"

      pakeha (n) NZ.  A person of European descent, as distinct from a maori.

      The Maori word for pig or pork  is 'poaka' – a copied word from the english word that maori used because until europeans came Maori did not know what a pig was. When the early european explorers arrived – Cook and others, they brought pigs with them for food. The maori saw the men, with white – or fair – skin, and some equated them to spirits – paakehaa – but it was pretty obvious that they were fair skinned men – and that's how the name for white settlers came about. The claim that it is a derogatory term only came about – to my memory – in the 60's and 70's. I am now in my 72nd. year , was born in Rotorua, and grew up in Te Puke. I have many maori relatives by marriage but no maori blood. I have grown up and lived with maori all my life – my wife is part maori – and it wasn't till I was in my 30's that I heard of the derogatory meaning of the word. I have an old book somewhere written in the 1800's I think, which talks about the relationship between Maori and Pakeha – I'll see if I can find it.. 

    14. Teresina February 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm



      Attitudes to the term[edit]

      New Zealanders of European ancestry vary in their attitude toward the word "P?keh?" as applied to themselves. Some embrace it wholeheartedly as a sign of their connection to New Zealand, in contrast to the European identity of their forebears. Still others find the term as being predominantly a relational term, and as archaic as calling M?ori "natives", while also lacking any meaningful description of cultural roots.[citation needed] It is commonly used by a range of journalists and columnists from the New Zealand Herald, New Zealand's largest-circulation daily newspaper.[16] Others object to the word, some strongly, claiming it to be derogatory or to carry implications of being an outsider.[17] Some believe being labelled as P?keh? compromises their status and their birthright links to New Zealand.[18] A joint response code of "NZ European or Pakeha" was tried in the 1996 census, but was replaced by "New Zealand European" in later censuses because it drew what Statistics New Zealand described as a "significant adverse reaction from some respondents".[19] Sociologist Paul Spoonley criticised the new version, however, saying that many P?keh? would not identify as European.[5]

      The term P?keh? is also sometimes used among New Zealanders of European ancestry in distinction to the M?ori term Tauiwi (foreigner), as an act of emphasising their claims of belonging to the space of New Zealand in contrast to more recent arrivals. Those who prefer to emphasise nationality rather than ethnicity in relating to others living in New Zealand may refer to all New Zealand citizens only as New Zealanders or Kiwis.