On Wednesday, 19th of Aug 2015, a few of NC members attended a seminar on “Understanding Treaty” held at the Christchurch Migrants Centre to educate the public about the Treaty of Waitangi and how to apply that to New Zealand’s multi-cultural setting.
The seminar opens with a short Emergency Management presentation by a representative from Civil Defence on how to prepare ourselves in the event of a natural disaster. Good ‘refresher’ presentation especially for us in earthquake zone! The take home message from this session is to have a ‘getaway’ plan in case of an emergency. This includes having a household plan, a survival kit, and a getaway kit. A few handy tips for the survival kit include settings aside three days worth of supplies e.g. water, canned food (low in salt!), any prescription medicine, portable cooker, etc.
The Treaty seminar then formally begins with an elder from the Ngai Tahu Iwi giving a karakia and a short history on how the Maori people came to New Zealand. It was definitely interesting to learn about the routes taken for them to reach New Zealand’s shores!
We went straight into it with a brief explanation of the Treaty. In short, the Treaty is an agreement between the British Crown and the Maori Rangatira (chiefs) that was signed in 1840. The Treaty of Waitangi is there to “…establish a relationship with Maori, giving Pakeha (non-Maori) and later settlers a place – if the Treaty is honoured…”; which supports a multi-cultural based future.
This seminar focused on the essence of the the Treaty; which is promoting unity and preserving the Maori culture. One of the main points that was put across was that children weren’t taught to fully understand the Treaty. For the Maoris, they are experiencing a loss of language and culture. Consequently, there is a dire need for the younger generation to revive, preserve, and be proud of their heritage and for that, the elders believe that the way to promote this is through the learning of the Treaty.
An example of (actively) preserving the Maori culture is through Kapa Haka. Kapa Haka is a powerful tool to capture the younger generation as it incorporates songs and dance. Kapa means ‘to stand in a row’ and Haka means ‘to dance’. Through Kapa Haka, they learn respect, joy, love as well as entertainment! I have been to Te Matatini Festival that was held in Christchurch this year and I sure have enjoyed it! The atmosphere was electric and the performances were strong. It’s amazing to see the pride that they have for this art form.
We also had a class exercise which were to do a hongi! A hongi is a Maori traditional greeting which symbolises the sharing of both souls. I have to admit, it was slightly awkward for me but thank goodness for my flat nose! Larger surface area, so less room for error…..
To summarise, learning and understanding the Treaty from their perspective is crucial to understand where we fit in. The seminar ended with another karakia, a hongi, and a really nice song!
p/s: Credit to Salha for the awesome notes.