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  • Writer's pictureCarol Barron

Our bicultural journey

I am proud to be a member of a Church that recognises Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a covenant that established our power-sharing relationship and has structures that support and promote this power -sharing.  This is evidenced by the partnership model the Methodist Church Te Hāhi Weteriana uses to make decisions on what is best for the church.  Te Taha Maori and Tauiwi can caucus to see if that will enable a general agreement so a true partnership decision can be made.

We acknowledge and congratulate Rev Dr Arapera Ngaha on her appointment as Tumuaki of Te Taha Māori and we know her knowledge, skill and quiet, courageous leadership will strengthen Weteriana as a whole.  We know she will carry on the strong traditions of leadership which started when Rev Rua Rakena was appointed as the first Tumuaki in 1972.

Rev Dr Arapera Ngaha, aka Bella, has been one of the Te Taha Māori representatives on our Steering Group from the beginning of the Methodist Alliance.  We appreciate Bella’s consistent attendance and commitment to participate in the governance of the Methodist Alliance over the last seven years.  Bella is also our link with the Public Issues Network.

Last year, we were honoured when Bella agreed to become one of our Co-Convenors.  The appointment of two Co-Convenors - one Convenor representing tangata whenua and the other tauiwi – who work together in partnership reflects our partnership obligation under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and our commitment to the bi-cultural journey.

The Methodist Alliance is using more Te Reo in our Steering Group agendas, submissions, and our strategic plan which you can read here.  Bella has always been willing to check on the Te Reo used in our documents and this year she ensured the Te Reo in our end of year financial statements was correct.

We believe te reo is a taonga – a treasure and that increasing our use of Te Reo is important to connect us with tangata whenua, helps our understanding of te ao Māori – the Maori world, and helps te reo Māori to secure its future as a living, dynamic and rich language in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We encourage our members to undertake growth in becoming kaupapa Tiriti organisations, including Te Reo, tikanga, and Te Tiriti, He Whakaputnga - the Declaration of Independence, and the Methodist understanding of covenant.  We are building a database of resources available to the membership to help in this growth.

Our members are all in different places on their bicultural journey as is the Methodist Alliance.  We are all in this together as we travel ensuring the principles of Te Tiriti are upheld and underpin our work.

Wesley Community Action (WCA) is working on how to change its model of governance to ensure it honours Te Tiriti.  The WCA Board has agreed to a power-sharing arrangement at its governance level -  our Methodist expression of co-governance.  Modelled on Methodist power-sharing approach this provides Māori connected to WCA (staff and board members and linking with Te Taha Māori) with the ability to signal any concerns or opportunities to the Board and that resolution is only achieved when both parties are in agreement.  .  WCA sees this as promoting Te Tiriti and deepening our democracy by utilising the knowledge and insights from across the whole organisation and wider church.  This new governance system is founded on three key understandings, one of which is that WCA is a Kaupapa Te Tiriti organisation.  The model ensures Māori voices and knowledge have the power to shape the mahi and direction of WCA.  The model promotes a whole organisation understanding of governance where Māori located in different parts of the organisation can exercise their power in shaping the direction and mahi of WCA.  WCA uses non-colonising models of practice (Te Ara Wēteri) to create opportunities for whānau to move beyond intergenerational trauma and to influence systems that are unjust.  It draws on the core elements of Te Tiriti – tino rangatiratanga for Māori in matters that belong to Māori, full and equal engagement by everyone in the governance (kawanatanga) of the organisation, and a deliberate priority on work that will protect and enhance the place of tangata whenua in all that WCA does.

Christchurch Methodist Mission (CMM) employs a cultural lead who ensures the mahi of CMM is consistent with the CMM commitment to the bicultural journey.  The principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi underpins all kaupapa and mahi of CMM.  CMM marks significant dates on the Māori calendar, including Waitangi Day, Matariki and Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, and hold organisation-wide hui on local marae as a mark of respect to local hapū and iwi..  In June this year CMM held the Wall Walk – a workshop designed to raise collective awareness of key events in the history of Aotearoa New Zealand, and their impact for Māori and Kiwi society as a whole.  You can find out more here.  CMM runs Whare Tiaki, a shared supported living home for eight kaumātua, run under kaupapa Māori principles.

If you would like more information about how you can support the Methodist Alliance, the Methodist Missions, please check out their websites or contact me.

Carol Barron, National Coordinator

03 375 0512 | 027 561 9164 |

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