This year’s Waitangi celebrations held at Waitangi had special significance for Te Ope Whakaora. The Salvation Army was invited by Bishop Te Kitohi Wiremu Pikaahu to be the lead denomination in the two Waitangi Day services held at Te Whare Runanga on the Treaty grounds.
‘A contingent of Salvationists along with people from other church groups were led by the Bishop in a pōwhiri at Te Tii o Waitangi Marae, where a warm welcome was received from people of local Ngāti Rahiri and Ngāti Kawa hapū.’
A period of whakawhanungatanga (connecting, introduction, belonging) followed among people from The Salvation Army. People from around the country connected with each other and people’s lived journeys were shared—some were inspiring journeys of transformation.
Both Waitangi Day services (at 5am and 10am) were very moving, and The Salvation Army’s lead role was a privilege. The moving waiata led by Captain Hana Seddon and Envoy Anihera Carroll and others in the later service had a significant spiritual impact on the people gathered.
Commissioner Mark Campbell’s address focused on the biblical concept of shalom (peace)—a greeting used on arrival and departure. Many people in a large audience responded positively to this concept, both audibly within the service and then in comments afterward.
The service included a beautiful liturgy of prayers for our nation, and the Hatea Māori Anglican choir created a beautiful and dynamic atmosphere.
The two services added significantly to the intense mix of celebration, carnival atmosphere, debate and protest, along with the very spiritual sense that seems to permeate Waitangi—something akin to a nation’s heart.
The people of Te Ope Whakaora came away blessed to have played a real part in such a meaningful event and realistically hope to have brought a real sense of the blessing and Word of God to the occasion.