On 6 February 2023, worship services take place on the Treaty Grounds in Waitangi annually, alongside the national Waitangi Day celebrations. The Salvation Army (TSA) has participated in the karakia (prayer) at these services for a number of years, but worship at Waitangi hasn’t happened for the past two years due to the impacts of the pandemic. The Salvation Army will be a leading denomination in an interdenominational church event onsite this year, with two services—a dawn service at 5am and a mid-morning service at 10am.
Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu from the Anglican Church has coordinated and led the official Waitangi services for a number of years. Lt-Colonel Ian Hutson mentioned that, ‘the Bishop has been supporting The Salvation Army with a review of Māori Ministry over the past year and a good relationship has developed between the TSA and the Bishop’.
Territorial Commander Commissioner Mark Campbell will be giving the address this year at both services, with Māori Ministry leading the waiata and other parts of the services.
The Waitangi festivities are traditionally a mix of reflection and celebration, with food stalls onsite for all to enjoy. The services include karakia (prayer), waiata (song), and korero (discussion), with many government and iwi leaders present and the Prime Minister attending in previous years. The dawn service is attended by church and iwi leaders and politicians. Both services are open to the public and are usually well attended.
Most know Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi) to have three articles; however, a fourth was added verbally during the signing of the Treaty but was not included in the Crown’s English version. It was later formally added by the Waitangi Tribunal. This article states that both Māori and Pakeha have the right to express their culture, spirituality and religious beliefs. This is a big part of why church leaders are welcomed to the ceremonies and invited to take part in them.
Co-chair of The Salvation Army Runanga Lt-Colonel Ian Hutson said that, ‘there is something sacred and spiritual—historical, and yet very much in the present about the ceremonies at Waitangi. It reflects where we are as a nation and the relationship between tangata whenua (Māori) and tangata te tiriti (non-Māori)’.
The Army has long prioritised cultivating strong relationships with tangata whenua. Ian explained that, ‘being at Waitangi is emblematic of the Army’s aspiration to honour Te Tiriti, to see more agency for Māori within our organisation and nation, and to cooperate with God in bringing life to those we work, worship and serve with, as well as to the communities and the nation we belong to.’
All are invited to attend the Dawn Karakia (5am) and the Ecumenical Karakia (10am) held on Waitangi Day. Both services are held at Te Whare Runanga, Waitangi, on the Treaty Grounds.