Maori and Pakeha

On Waitangi Day in 1983, I preached a sermon in a small church at Waikaka Valley near Gore, Southland describing the parallels between Saulís treatment of the Gibeonites and the breach of the Treaty of Waitangi explains. An article based on the sermon published in the Challenge newspaper later that year created considerable interest. Muri Thompson circulated it widely to Maori groups and a few government officials. After that, I thought that I had done by bit, so I have not given the topic much thought since then.

A couple of weekends ago (March 2019), I attended a conference called Behold a New Era in Christchurch. One of the speakers was Norm McLeod. His message about the relationship between Maori and Pakeha in New Zealand really set me thinking about this topic again. He shared a vision of Maori and Pakeha standing together on the rock, which was really compelling. This unity in Jesus is essential for a move of God in New Zealand.

He shared a second vision in which the Pakeha church on one side crying to God for revival and the Maori elders on the other side crying out for someone to bring them justice. As I was pondering this vision during the night and thinking about some of the teaching about the Kingdom of God from the conference, the thoughts for the following posts came to me. They are not the complete picture, but I believe they are an important part of the puzzle.

Godís Purpose

God brought the British and Maori together for a purpose. They each needed something that the other had.

Maori needed the gospel of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit. They understood the spirituality of the land, and they lived in strong communities, but sin and the spiritual powers of evil created divisions that often manifested in war. The violence allowed evil spirits to attach themselves to the land. They needed the peace and unity that only Jesus could bring.

When the British settlers came to NZ, they needed the Maori understandings of land and community, but pride prevented them from seeing what Maori had to offer them. All they saw was the warrior spirit, disturbed by oppression and fired up by muskets. Pakeha politicians manipulated that warrior spirit to get Maori fighting in European wars that did not concern them, but trampled on their understanding of law and community, which Pakeha settlers really needed.

Lost Land

The settlers who came to New Zealand did not understand the importance of land for Jesusí Kingdom. The Scottish settlers had lost their land to English gentry. The English had lost their land when William the Conqueror gave it to the nobles who fought with him in 1066. The English had become tenant farmers, working in return for a share of the crop. Then with enclosure, many had lost even that right and were forced to become itinerant farmer workers. With the industrial revolution, many drifted to the new cities to live and work. They had lost their connection to both their land and their traditional communities.

When British settlers came to New Zealand, they left behind whatever community remained. They saw land as just a tool to earn a living. They were quite happy to buy and sell land for profit. Having moved across the world, they were quick to move from place to improve their economic position. They had no understanding of the importance of community or the spiritual importance of land.


Territory is critical to the Kingdom of God. Kings needs territory. A king without territory is not a real king. If another ruler gains control of his territory, he is just a pretender.

The spiritual powers of evil understand the importance of territory. The powerful ones have become ďprincipalities and powersĒ controlling nations and kingdoms by dominating the kings and political leaders with authority over them. Lesser spirits control smaller areas where they have been given authority.

In the last couple of centuries, the church has lost interest in territory. Jesus now has many followers in the world, but very little territory where he has authority. There are very few places where he is king. Instead, his followers are scattered throughout territory that is controlled by the enemy. Because they live and work in enemy territory, they are often battered, beaten and robbed.

If there are no areas on earth that are evil-spirit free, then Jesus does not have a kingdom on earth. He just has people who have given allegiance to him living as outlaws in enemy territory. This should disturb us. Jesus needs followers who understand the importance of territory. To establish the Kingdom of God on earth, God needs a church that can take spiritual control of territory for him and push the spiritual powers of evil out of it.

Land and community are critical for the coming of the kingdom of God. I explain this more at Territory

Stolen Community

British settlers left behind whatever community they had when they came to New Zealand. They did not understand that they could learn about community from Maori. Pakeha were restless people without community, so they presumed that Maori were the same.

In the 1950s and 60s, Pakeha persuaded Maori to leave their remaining land and communities and move to the cities to work in the freezing works and car assembly factories, so they could share in Pakeha wealth. They would find a good home in state houses in Porirua and Otara, and they would be able to afford a Holden or Ford V8 in which to drive back to the marae if they needed to. Of course, that soon became too hard for people who worked long shifts. Unfortunately, these jobs disappeared twenty years later, and Maori dropped into urban poverty, without the support of their traditional communities.

I once thought that that the worst thing that the Pakeha did to Maori was stealing their land, but in some ways destroying their communities was an even greater evil.

Norm McLeod said,

When the settlers stole the land, they took the soul of the people.
I say,
When they took their community, they destroyed the heart of the people.

Religious Colonisation

Because they had no understanding of community, the Pakeha settlers brought an Old Testament priest/temple concept of church here. Build a mini-temple, go there once a week on the Sabbath (three times a year if you are slack) to meet with the priest and during the rest of the week, you can get on with making money.

Going to a building where the Holy Spirit dwells is an Old Testament model. The Israelites had to operate that way, because the Holy Spirit had not been poured out on all flesh. Jesus changed that on the day of Pentecost by pouring out his Holy Spirit on his people, outside of the temple where everyone could see. Under the New Testament model, the Holy Spirit is with the people of Jesus, so they carry him out to where people live in darkness and dwell with them, allowing his light to shine in the darkness.

When Jesus sent out the twelve and seventy apostles, they went into a village or a street and stayed in the home of the person of peace. They discipled the people in the street or village who chose to follow Jesus when they saw the sick healed and the demons cast out. They became a community bound together by their love for Jesus and each other that brought social transformation to that village or street.

The land over which they had authority became territory that belongs to Jesus. This expanded the Kingdom of God on earth, by giving authority of this territory to Jesus.

Once a Kingdom Community was in place, they then went out to another street or village and repeated the process. In this way, communities were strengthened, society was transformed, and the territory where Jesus had authority expanded.

Maori Revival

If we look at the nineteenth century, revival amongst Maori, it did not apply the temple model that the English settlers had brought from home. Maori stumbled upon the apostolic model that Jesus used. A person who had learnt about Jesus would go to a related hapu or whanau and tell them about him. They would live there and disciple those who chose to follow Jesus. This took place in traditional communities. The tribal communities became Jesus communities, as people submitted to him.

When a community was strong in their faith, the leaders would be sent out to another whanau or hapu to share about Jesus. Often a hapu would ask for some Christians to come and live among them. Sending out faithful people multiplied the faith communities and expanded the territory that belongs to Jesus.

The land of the whanau or hapu that came to faith became territory for Jesus. This strategy expanded the Kingdom of God in NZ. Unfortunately, this amazing revival was cut short by Pakeha religious leaders who did not understand what was happening. They sucked the best Maori leaders into the church system as lay-preachers and church became a Sunday thing. The apostles and prophets sustaining the move of God were shut down.

I always presumed that it was the stealing of the land that choked the Christian revival amongst Maori, but I now realise that even more harm was done by Pakeha Church leaders imposing an Old Testament temple model on the emerging Maori church. It is sad that the enemy was able to use the land-hungry Pakeha Christians and Pakeha religious leaders to kill off the advance of the Kingdom of God.

Rock of Kotahitanga

I agree with Norm McLeod that spiritual blessing will not come in New Zealand, particularly in the North Island, until Maori and Pakeha are standing in unity on the rock of Jesus. At the moment, two groups are crying out to God, but they do not realise that the answer to their prayer is held by the people on the other side.

Norm McLeod said at the Behold conference,
Jesus is not listening to the prayer of the church for revival. His ear is turned to the Tangata Whenua, because they are crying out for justice. When the treaty was violated, it is Godís law that was broken.
He also said
If you have not reached your street, how can you pray for a nation?
I would say that reaching a nation begins with the transformation of a street.

Social transformation does not come from the top, but occurs at the local level, street by street, and village by village. This is why Jesus strategy focussed on streets and villages. Most apostles focus on their city, when they should be attempting to establish a Kingdom Community in a street where they have moved to live.

Rather than targeting cities and nations, apostles should be doing what Jesus commanded his apostles to do, and move out to live in a street or village where the Holy Spirit is working. As they build community in that place, society will be restored, land will be cleansed, and Godís kingdom will come.

Justice for Maori

When I first wrote about the Treaty of Waitangi, I assumed that the government treaty settlements would go a long way to restoring the victims of injustice. It is now evident that they are not sufficient. The settlement process undertaken by successive governments is good, because the Crown needed to apologise and make restitution for its failure to honour and respect the Treaty of Waitangi. However, most of the benefits have flowed to those who are hooked into the Iwi political systems. Many Maori have not benefited from the treaty settlements. Something more will be needed to transform society and restore them to blessing.

Government-funded social services also help, but they are not sufficient for the radical social transformation that we need. A full gospel that includes salvation from sin, reconciliation, and restoration of community by the power of the Holy Spirit will be needed. Those who are still suffering and crying out for from justice will only be restored to blessing when they are drawn back into communities bound together by the love of Jesus, and love for each other.

Apostles are the Solution

I agreed with Norm McLeod at the conference when he said,

I donít want to see revival that leaves society the same, with people in poverty and cramped up by injustice. A revival that does not transform society is like a cloud without rain.
The ultimate solution to the Maori cry for justice is New Testament-style apostles restoring community in the places where they live. We need apostles who can put together what Maori had, but Pakeha didnít have, with what Pakeha had, but Maori didnít. We need apostles who can put together knowledge of Jesus and the Holy Spirit with an understanding of Community and Territory.

Daniel Zelli said at the Behold Conference that apostles donít build the church, they go into the darkness to expand the Kingdom of God.

When apostles do as Jesus did, and go to a street or village and heal the sick, preach the gospel, disciple his followers, cast out demons, cleanse the land and establish strong communities, society will be transformed street by street.

The world is waiting for apostles who can put together the wisdom of Maori and Pakeha. These apostles will know Jesus and walk in the Spirit, but they will also understand how to establish community by making disciples, and claim land for Jesus by driving the spiritual powers of evil out of territory controlled by followers of Jesus.

These apostles will take a small team that includes a prophet and evangelist to live among the poor and oppressed and love, serve and bless them. They will transform the community where they live by teaching people to love one another. In these Kingdom Communities, followers of Jesus who love one another will transform society, street by street, and village by village.

Wealth will flow from the rich and the powerful to the poor and oppressed. People who hold unrighteous wealth will be led by the Spirit to share with those who have suffered injustice or fallen into poverty. They will teach them how to use their wealth to support their families and lead productive lives as in Acts 2:45 and Acts 4:33-35.

In the Old Testament age, people had to go to the tabernacle/temple, because that was the only place that the Holy Spirit dwelt. Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit dwells in every believer, so he wants apostles to carry him to the place where the poor and oppressed live, so the Spirit can dwell there with them. The Holy Spirit wants to live amongst the broken and hurting. He cannot live in their hearts, because they have not been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, so he needs the body of Jesus providing a place for him to live amongst them. That way they do not have to drive to a meeting at the weekend to meet with him.

Settler Model

The apostles emerging in New Zealand have not understood the full implications of Pentecost. Much of what they assume to be new is old. Instead, of following Jesus example, they have continued to implement the Old Testament Priest/Temple Model that the English settlers bought to New Zealand. They build big temples and gather people there once a week to sit under a priest and to hear from God. During the rest of the week, followers of Jesus are scattered in the world.

The only twist is that they are not allowed to focus on making money, but are expected to transform the places where they work, although this is almost impossible for one person standing alone in the darkness. The result is that there is very limited community, and no territory is taken for Jesus.

Going to a building where the Holy Spirit dwells is an Old Testament approach. The Israelites had to operate that way, because the Holy Spirit had not been poured out on them. In the New Testament model, the Holy Spirit is with every follower of Jesus, so we carry him out into the darkness where the people live and become a community there with them, so the light can shine in their darkness.

Apostles in NZ need to break free of the OT Temple model bought here by the colonising English church. Lyn Packer said at the Behold Conference.

Colonisation by religion is over.
I am not sure that everyone understood the full significance of that call.


The problem is that modern apostles are mostly raised up in Pakeha-style churches, so they have been trained to build a temple and bringing people into it, but they donít understand the Maori concept community and attachment to land. Pakeha apostles know Jesus and carry the Holy Spirit, so they build a house for him and call the people to come there to meet with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They donít understand the piece of the puzzle that the Maori had: the spirituality of the land and the importance of community.

Godís strategy is to send apostles to where broken and crushed people are living and becoming a community with them in the place where they live. His kingdom will expand the territory of as the spiritual powers of evil are driven off the land over which these people have authority, as renters or owners.

The people of New Zealand need better apostles; not big apostles with a travelling ministry who expect the people to come to their meetings on Sunday, but small apostles doing what the seventy did for Jesus, going to live amongst the poor and the oppressed, the crushed and broken. They will share the good news, heal the sick, and cast out demons. They will love and bless them and teach them how to live. These apostles will transform society from the bottom-up by building community and teaching people to love one another in the street where they live. They will drive evil spirits out of the territory where the people of Jesus have authority.

Maori and Pakeha both need apostles who have been sent by the Holy Spirit to live amongst them where they live. Jesus did not require the people of the world to climb laboriously up to where he lives. He came down to into the world and lived among the poor, the broken-hearted and the oppressed.

He camped among us (John 1:14).
Jesus explained to his disciples that once the Holy Spirit had come, they should not stay in Jerusalem, but go into the world to live among the poor and oppressed, carrying the Holy Spirit with them to set these people free.

When Paul went to Corinth, he did not start a meeting and expect the lost to come and find him. He went and lived amongst them with some friends and built them into a community (1 Cor 2:1).

We have too many Jesus and Holy Spirit Apostles. We need more Community and Territory Apostles serving Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. They will go and live with the poor and oppressed and become a community with them. They will expand the territory of Jesus by pushing the spiritual powers of evil out of the land where his followers have authority.

Pakeha Responsibility

Norm McLeod says that he does not want Pakeha to feel guilty. That is good, because Maori should not be accusing Pakeha. However, responsibility always belongs to the powerful, so Pakeha Christians need to repent of their treatment of Maori. The unjust taking of their land created real hurts in the hearts of the Maori living at the time. These hurts have been passed down from generation to generation. So many generations have now passed by that some of those who carry the hurt often do not know where it came from, but the pain remains. This is the cause of much personal and social dysfunction.

Some troubled Maori will need a Pakeha person to personally ask them for forgiveness before they can be set free. The treaty settlement process is a good first step, but Pakeha Christians will need to seek forgiveness from each new generation of Maori, until they are set free and healed of the hurt, so that is no longer passed down to their children.

The beneficiaries of oppression and injustice have difficulty understanding its impact on its victims. They think they should get over it, but the scars and hurts donít just disappear when the injustice is removed. If the injustice is minimised and excused by its beneficiaries, anger is created, which deepens the scars.

In the 1980s, I was asked to attend a small conference (hui) organised by Muri Thompson at Moerewa to discuss the links between the gospel and the Treaty of Waitangi. This was the covenant between the British governor and the Maori chiefs gathered at Waitangi that opened the way for the colonisation of New Zealand. Despite the promises made in the treaty, the Maori were quickly lost their land in a series of illegal political and military manoeuvres.

On the first morning of the conference, a young Maori Christian leader, Gray Theodore, spent two hours recounting the history of Maori dealings with European colonists. For many of the Maori people listening, mostly women and young people, all Christians, this was the first time they had heard a detailed account of the injustices that previous generations had experienced. As they listened, they all began to weep. This experience was an eye-opener for me (When I talk about the experience I still feel like weeping).

The reason that these people wept was that their hearts still carried the pain of the injustices their forefathers had experienced. They did not know what had happened, but they still carried the emotional scars from the injustices experienced by previous generations. As they listened, I saw the lights coming on for them. They got an understanding of the pain that they knew they still carried (despite their faith in Jesus).

When the injustices occurred, the people who lost their land felt terrible pain. Their children picked up that pain. Because their pain was real they passed the hurt on to their children. The history of the injustice was gradually lost, but the spiritual and emotional pain was passed on from generation to generation. Hearing their history explained the pain, but it did not heal it. That would require repentance and restitution by the descendants of European colonists who benefited from the injustices. I hope that my talk contributed a little to making that happen.

When injustice and oppression occur, emotional and spiritual pain is passed on to subsequent generations. As time passes, the reason for the emotional pain is forgotten, but the scars remain with the victims' descendants, crippling their lives. Those hurts need to be healed before the pattern is broken so they can be free.