Ihumātao is an issue of our times. It is a significant moment in the history of our nation and for Carey Baptist College, located just a few kilometers from the settlement of Ihumātao, it is also very local. This week we asked some of those who have warmed the land at Ihumātao with their presence and their prayers to explain why…
We start with James Kaa-Morgan whose connection is generational through whakapapa and finish with Matt and Rachel Renata who have been responsible for mobilising daily prayer and whakamoemiti (worship) every Sunday at Ihumātao.
At the end of the stories there are links to resources that provide good information about the history and current situation at Ihumātao. Please read the information and prayerfully consider your response to Ihumātao and the wider issues it raises for the church in Aotearoa New Zealand.
James Kaa-Morgan (post-graduate student):
If the laws of our land were truly just, they would align with that of a higher authority, and for us at Ihumātao we are seeing a realigning of these laws take place every day through our people and over the land. This is Mana Motuhake! This is Tino Rangatiratanga!
George Wieland (lecturer):
I first went to Ihumātao to enjoy walking that unique and beautiful landscape. We had recently moved to Māngere and I was just exploring the area. I was intrigued by its history and, as I found out more, amazed that a site of such historic significance for the nation was so little known. Then, of course, it got much worse. News went round of land designated for a housing development, adjoining the Stonefields but itself a part of ancestral land and burial sites. As I began to ask questions, listen, research and learn, I became appalled at the history of injustice, dispossession and pain suffered by local iwi over the past two centuries. So when the call went out for a protest against the proposed development I felt I had to be there. That was in March, 2016. I felt indignation as I heard an Auckland councilor express her deep regret that the development had got through council without proper consideration; incredulity as a NZ archaeologist spoke of the significance of “New Zealand’s Stonehenge” and the lack of value placed on such a treasure; grief for iwi and hapu that had suffered theft, violence, marginalization, and now faced yet another loss. I stood with the other protestors, holding hands around the area marked with white flags, symbolizing resistance to the proposed development. In the three years since, I have learned more of the complexities of the situation as it is now experienced, but the conviction has grown that an horrendous injustice remains unresolved and its consequences continue to be suffered. The past cannot be undone, but we can resolve that, as for us, we will seek to learn what it means for us in our day to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God, the creator, redeemer and reconciler.
Andrew Clark-Howard (Pastoral Leadership student):
As Pākehā, I have a place in the land because of my relationship to Māori. Māori who I consider friends and teachers for my journey in this relationship saw Ihumātao and the conversation there as representative of a wider call to unbelong from our history and reality of colonisation and empire which has ravaged tangata whenua. I went to listen, to be quiet, and to honour this call for me to begin shining the light on my own privilege and power as tangata tiriti.
Blue Bradley (Ministry Leader):
Over the last couple of weeks I have visited Ihumātao eight times to walk the whenua and pray with friends, contribute food, have great conversations over cups of tea with mates and stand in solidarity with those who seek a peaceful resolution to this important issue. There are always varied opinions held about what should be done in situations like this and sometimes I think that our opinions can get in the way of our actions. Showing up is a simple action that counts, it shows an interest to learn first hand, it positions one to see and listen differently than to just believe what the media may present and it gives an opportunity to bring a message of peace and love, and support to our Baptist brothers and sisters as they continue to bring the gospel message of reconciliation in that place.
Mānaakinui Te Kahu (Ngā Pou Amorangi student):
It was a truly sacred place to worship before all the aroha and support arrived. The Wairua Tapu blew through the grass and trickled along the water. I would hope that out of the sun rays a dove would rest on the land…too busy looking for signs when actually God was already there, whispering amidst the silent worship of creation…kia tau te Rangimarie.
Reti Ah-Voa (Pasifika and Māori Support):
I went to Ihumaatao on the first night; I live in Maangere and I have nieces and nephews who whakapapa to Makaurau Marae and Ihumaatao. I went in response to my nieces Facebook post which showed her and her 4yo daughter on the frontline and in that late evening I could hear the helicopter overhead and sirens – so I was fearful for their safety. I have 3 cousins who have children and/or mokopuna from this Marae. I went because of my growing awareness of the injustice of the Maori land issue. I went because God has been growing my compassion for the injustice for Maori in Aotearoa. I hope I have enough character to think, I would have responded even if none of our babies whakapapa to this whenua.
Andrew Picard (lecturer)
I went to Ihumātao to place myself in proximity to Māori friends and to listen to their pain about injustice, in order that I might learn how to share in it and seek God’s justice.
Monique Lee (Pastoral Leadership student):
I believe God cares deeply about reconciliation, and reconciliation of any sort begins with listening, even when listening hurts or makes us feel vulnerable ourselves. I have been visiting Ihumātao to listen to the people and to pray for unity and the miracle of reconciliation.
Sandy Kerr (Kaiārahi-Rangahau Māori):
For me, Ihumātao is a Christian issue – one where we admit that God is truth and always just, but his people are often not. Given our Christian colonial history we can be certain that many settler Christians supported the 1863 legislation that allowed Maori land to be unjustly taken and in so doing benefitted greatly at the expense of the dispossessed. The conflict at Ihumātao exists because of that initial confiscation and the enduring legacy of a colonial system that unfairly divested Māori of their land and livelihoods, in clear breech of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. In 2019, we get to choose where we stand. I stand for truth and justice. I stand with a God who redeems our past. I stand with mana whenua of Ihumātao.
Jonathan Edmeades (Pastoral Leadership student):
For me, one reason why I have loved spending time at Ihumātao over the past couple of weeks has been the opportunity to tautoko and spend time with some of the Māori leaders that I have been blessed and led by in our Baptist context as I have grown up. For me, being a pastoral leader committed to living out Te Tiriti o Waitangi means ensuring that I do what little I can to support and openly trust Māori leaders, not only when they are blessing us in our Pākehā church contexts, but particularly when they are seeking to lead and bless their own people within Te Ao Māori.
Rachel Renata (Ngā Pou Amorangi student):
We have an abundance of blessing in the God we pursue, yet, often our churches find comfort in staying silent and inactive when moments like this arise. That is not what we are called to be, we are called to be the witness of the whole gospel to the whole world, we are called to reach the people that so desperately need a God who speaks, is present and acts.
Matt Renata (Ngā Pou Amorangi student):
God’s love, truth and light is exposing our dark, colonised and painful history as a nation, and He’s using Ihumātao to do it. God hasn’t been asking us to choose sides or even get involved with the decision making side of the kaupapa, but is asking us to help mobilise His Church to pray for His will to be done here in Aotearoa as it is in Heaven, and allow His peace, unity, truth and love to be known to all nations, tribes and tongue that call Aotearoa home.
Reference Material/online links/social media
The Mounting Crisis at Ihumaatao by TIM McCREANOR, FRANCES HANCOCK, NICOLA SHORT
Ihumātao – Makaurau Marae Chair person
Protect Ihumātao Page:
https://www.facebook.com/protectihumatao/ (This page is constantly sharing with the public upcoming events, livestreams from Ihumātao, updates on the whānau, updates of the whenua and other information.)