There are a number of references in the Bible to covenant, including where God made an everlasting covenant with Israel, his chosen people. Covenant is the formalisation of a relationship which has mutual responsibilities and implies an everlasting or continued protection of that relationship. It is unconditional and binding.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a covenant and was seen as such by Māori chiefs, who in good faith entered into and signed it, expecting that the principles and commitments would be honoured. As we know, it wasn’t very long before the Crown broke the covenant; an early example being the 1846 New Zealand Government Act where land not registered would automatically be vested to the Crown, a blatant breach of Article Two of te Tiriti which guaranteed Māori full, exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands, forests and fisheries and other property for so long as they wished. Over the years to follow, many breaches of te Tiriti occurred, frequently enshrined in legislation, contributing to the inequalities and inequities Māori experienced and that still exist today.
Te Tiriti is as relevant today as it was when entered into in 1840, and The Salvation Army in Aotearoa New Zealand upholds and is committed to Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the covenant on which our nations bicultural partnership is established, acknowledging the principles of partnership, protection and participation.
Within He Waka Eke Noa (all of us together), our Territorial strategic framework, our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi covenant and partnership underpins and is woven into our three strategic priorities of increasing our mission impact, being a great place for people to belong, work, worship and serve, and long-term sustainability. We must and will journey together in Christian love as Jesus commanded in John 13:35 ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’. Honouring and committing to Te Tiriti o Waitangi is an outworking of Jesus’ command.
Colonel Gerry Walker