Kapiti Island – sanctuary of the Sprirt

Kapiti Island

Kapiti Island                                                                                                                                   Trevor Heath Photography

Today Kapiti Island north of Wellington is a sanctuary for some of New Zealand’s precious rare birds. 180 years ago it provided sanctuary of a different sort. In 1837 a group of young men hungry for truth established what was perhaps New Zealand’s first indigenous Bible college on the island. Tamihana Te Rauparaha (son of the great Ngati Toa chief) his cousin Matene Te Whiwhi and ten others retreated to Kapiti to study the new teachings of Christianity.

They had been introduced to the Gospel by Ripahau, a former slave of who had returned from the far north with the transforming new ideas he had he learnt from the missionaries. Ideas about peace, forgiveness, new life and hope beyond death.

Tamihana and his friends were excited about what they heard. However others in their tribes were less enthusiastic, even actively opposing their endeavours to learn more. In response the young seekers sought sanctuary across the waters on Kapiti Island where, as Keith Newman writes in his recent book Beyond Betrayal,

“They acquired paper and writing implements from whaling stations and, with fragments from (the) gospel, a prayer book and whatever Ripahau had memorised, they began their own Bible school.”

The several months these young men spent on their island retreat was to bear abundant fruit. Together with the missionary Octavius Hadfield whom they subsequently invited to join them, they became ministers of a great work of God which was established and flourished in Otaki and along the coast.

This work was to have a major impact in the Wellington region and beyond. Local tribal conflicts were quelled. Tamihana and his cousin journeyed to the South Island tribes to seek forgiveness and reconciliation for his father’s previous raids. Tamihana was also influential in establishing the Maori King movement with a vision for tribal unity. However when it later became militant against the Crown and conflict broke out he ensured that the Wellington region remained a “peace zone”.

These were nation changing events. But it all began when 12 young men sought the sanctuary of the Spirit on Kapiti Island.

Ewen McQueen
April 2014

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Spiritual Renewal, Treaty of Waitangi | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bible in Schools

Rt Hon W.F. Massey

Rt Hon W.F. Massey

180 years ago in New Zealand the Bible was valued more than gold. The hunger across the land for the Maori New Testament – Te Kawenata Hou was insatiable. Now it is being removed from our schools by ardently secular parents.

They say it is a human rights issue. What they fail to grasp is that the very rights they purport to be protecting only exist because of the Judeo-Christian cultural heritage they enjoy in this nation.

Wherever the Bible has gone in the world it has provided two key values upon which democracy and human rights have flourished – the fundamental value and equality of all human beings as made in the imago Dei, and the accountability of all human authority to a higher authority. (Refer ODT article 24th Oct 2003).

Christianity transforms societies for the better. New Zealand is no exception. In the 1820s thousands died in the inter-tribal musket wars. In the 1830s as the Spirit of Te Kawenata Hou moved across the land, peace broke out, slaves were liberated and civil government was established.

Understanding our cultural roots is vital if we are to make sensible decisions today. New Zealand’s second longest serving Prime Minister, W.F. Massey, certainly appreciated his inheritance. Whilst debating a Religious Exercises in Schools Bill in Parliament he noted:

The Bible is the basis of the Christian religion and the basis of our civilization. The more our young people can learn about the Bible, the better it will be for them and for our nation.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rt Hon William Ferguson Massey                                                                                        New Zealand Prime Minister 1912 – 1925

I agree with him.

Ewen McQueen                                                                                                                                     18th February 2014

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Protecting Children, Spiritual Renewal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christianity foundational to the Treaty

On this Waitangi Day in the 200th year since Te Harinui was first proclaimed in these islands, let us remember that the Treaty would never have been signed without the influence of Christianity. Read the Otago Daily Times, Foundations of Treaty rooted in Christianity : Ewen McQueen

Ewen McQueen
6th February 2014

Posted in Spiritual Renewal, Treaty of Waitangi | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Rev Samuel Marsden – Till time shall be no more

Marsden Cross at Rangihoua

Marsden Cross at Rangihoua

200 years is a momentous milestone in a nation as young as New Zealand. But that is the milestone we celebrate this year of 2014.

It is two centuries since the Rev Samuel Marsden came ashore at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands and held the first Christian service in this land. It was an auspicious day – indeed it was Christmas Day, 1814.

Nga Puhi chief Ruatara had gathered his people on the grass above the beach and it being Christmas Marsden preached from the gospel of Luke 2:10 – “Behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy – te harinui”.

Marsden later wrote in his journal:

“In this manner the Gospel has been introduced to New Zealand, and I fervently pray that the glory of it may never depart from its inhabitants, till time shall be no more.”

Christianity went on to have a huge impact in early New Zealand. An impact that reverberates to this day. The Treaty we celebrate next week would never have happened without the influence of Te Rongopai – the Good News. However that is a story for another day. Indeed there will be many such stories to remember and reflect on this year. And we need to remember, for the seeds of our future lie in our past.

For now let us start the year by joining with Marsden and praying for the glory of the Gospel to shine ever brighter across our nation. For there is unfinished business in the land…

Ewen McQueen
January 2014

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Spiritual Renewal, Treaty of Waitangi | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

30 Years On

30 years ago today my status changed – utterly. On the 7th of November 1983 I knelt beside my bed, prayed, and surrendered my life to the love of Jesus Christ.  That day everything changed. Today it remains changed. Existential rest and peace rose up in my soul, and it has never left.

Within 48 hours of that decision, He had shown me how real He was. It was a night when I spoke to my fellow school students at Takapuna Grammar. I spoke of our land and the song we sing together – God of nations at thy feet, in the bonds of love we meet.  I encouraged them to unwrap the true Gift of the coming Christmas. The sound system failed in the school hall that night. Yet we all heard His Spirit calling us loud and clear. It was a special night, and I am not the only one who hasn’t forgotten it. But that was just the beginning….

Since then there have been many special nights. And many difficult ones too. Some long and fearful. But He has never failed me. His faithfulness is treasure. I love Him still. He has blessed me beyond measure – the most loving and faithful wife, four boys of whom I could not be prouder, family and friends whom I am privileged to know and have in my life.

As the years go on I see more clearly the bright mountain of His coming kingdom looming over all our present shadowy realities. And as Christmas draws near again, I hear even louder the songs we shall sing together,

  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;                                                                          and the government will be on his shoulder,and his name will be called             “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”                        Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,                             upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom,                                                                    to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness                                 from this time forth and for evermore.

Ewen McQueen                                                                                                                                7th November 2013

Posted in Spiritual Renewal | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ngai Tahu youth better savers

WhaiRawaNgai Tahu young people are more likely to be savers with better financial literacy than other young New Zealanders. This according to a study undertaken by the Financial Education and Research Centre reported in the Herald today.

The study attributed the its findings largely to the Whai Rawa savings scheme – one of the initiatives set up by Ngai Tahu with the proceeds of their Treaty settlement. Under the scheme young people are encouraged to save with the tribe matching their contributions. The funds can be used for education, home ownership or retirement. As the Whai Rawa website says:

Whai Rawa is all about creating a better future for Ngāi Tahu whānau through greater wealth and wellbeing.  Improving participation in tertiary education and levels of home ownership, along with having sufficient funds for retirement, are keys to growing wealth and wellbeing. (www.whairawa.com)

Whai Rawa (Pathway to Prosperity) is another answer to those prone to skepticism about the Treaty settlement process. Its a visionary scheme with a long term horizon. And the research shows it is already bearing fruit.

Ewen McQueen                                                                                                                         October 2013

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Economic Transformation, Treaty of Waitangi | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

More than gold

Gold SovereignIn 1837 at Paihia in the Bay of Islands the first Maori New Testament was printed – Te Kawenata Hou. Shortly thereafter a messenger arrived at Paihia from Te Rarawa chief Nopera Panakareao. He had journeyed several days across country with a letter requesting a single copy of the New Testament – and a one pound gold sovereign to pay for it. The printer William Colenso noted it was the first gold coin he had ever seen in the land. Such was the hunger among the New Zealanders for the Christian scriptures.

As Keith Newman notes in his excellent book “Bible & Treaty”, within months of its first print run of 5,000 copies the Maori New Testament had quickly become a treasured taonga across New Zealand. Emissaries were sent from all across the land to Paihia requesting copies and wherever missionaries visited they were pressed for Te Kawenata Hou.

One those missionaries Rev William Williams tells the account of a Captain Symonds (RN) travelling in the central North Island. He and his party sought permission from the local chief to climb Mt Tongariro – it was denied. The chief remarked “They offered us gold, …had they brought us some Testaments we would have consented to their going up the mountain.” However the chief told them that if they returned in the summer with New Testaments the tapu would be lifted and they could climb the mountain (“Christianity Among the New Zealanders” 1867, page 286).

The amazing thirst for the Bible among Maori is something generally overlooked by modern historians. Instead they prefer to trivialise the work of the missionaries and marginalise the huge influence for good that Christianity had in early New Zealand. In one generation a nation had been transformed from a land of violence, vengeance and cannibalism, to a land where chiefs were willing to pay gold for Te Rongopai – the good news that brought peace.

The events of the 1830s in New Zealand show that radical societal change for the better is possible in our land. It has happened before and it can happen again. But it will take leaders like Nopera Panakareao, the Tongariro chief, and those who carried the true Taonga across the oceans to these islands at the uttermost ends of the earth.

Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold…   Psalm 119:27

Ewen McQueen                                                                                                                                     October 2013

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Spiritual Renewal, Treaty of Waitangi | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment