Where was Moko’s dad?

The court has reached its verdict. The marchers have gone home. The politicians and media have done their usual hypocritical hand-wringing. But the question remains – where was Moko’s dad?

A father is supposed to be there to protect his children. A father is supposed to be there to help their mother look after the family. A father is supposed to provide for and love his family.

So where was Moko’s dad? We have no idea. We have no idea because the question was never asked. It never is. In all the national breast-beating that happens whenever such a tragedy occurs, the real issue is never addressed. Why are so many New Zealand children left without the care of a natural father? Why have we allowed a relationship culture to become embedded which accepts as normal the regular dropping in and out of relationships and frequent changing of partners? How is this supposed to build strong and loving families?

These are the questions which should be asked. But instead the focus is always on the failure of social agencies, the need for more education or awareness campaigns, tougher sentences or more money to be spent coordinating ever more welfare programmes. No-one ever wants to face the real issue.

The politicians don’t because they know it will be an uncomfortable conversation with the electorate. It may lose them votes. Many would also have to revisit their ideological commitment to socially liberal policies that have undermined marriage and family life. They would have to admit that their rejection of traditional Christian morality around family life has not led to a celebration of diversity. It has led to dead children.

The media don’t want to face the real issue because as soon as their current affairs journalists finish shedding tears about the latest tragedy, it is back to business as usual. And business as usual means more trash programming that normalises and promotes the very values that are rotting our family life. If it is not some reality show with contestants hopping in and out of bed with each other, it is a soap fueled by a focus on continual relationship churn or a “comedy” pushing the lie that the new liberal morality is all fun and laughter.

Sadly the reality for our children is very different. Until we are willing to face that, all the national soul searching will produce nothing but more hypocrisy.

Ewen McQueen
May 2016

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Honouring Marriage, Protecting Children, Respect for Life | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Land Wars Day risks locking in grievance focus

In a healthy relationship you celebrate your successes – you don’t memorialize your conflicts. That is why a national day to commemorate lives lost in the land wars in New Zealand is not a good idea. There is a real risk that it will not build unity (kotahitanga). Rather it may simply reserve a space in our national calendar around which grievance will coalesce and contention will fester. On both sides.

In a healthy relationship you do your best to face your failures and conflicts. Difficult conversations are had. Apologies are offered. Actions are taken to put things right. Forgiveness is offered. Reconciliation is achieved and whilst lessons are learned, both parties put things behind them and move forward to better things.

This is the dynamic of a healthy relationship. In New Zealand we are building a strong relationship between Maori and Pakeha based on this dynamic. It is called the Treaty settlements process. The process is not perfect and has still to be completed. However it is a journey that has been undertaken in good faith and engaged in honourably by both sides. A Land Wars Day threatens to divert that journey by freezing our focus on conflicts that need to be put behind us.

Yes we need to know our history and yes our children need to be taught about our past conflicts. However those lessons are for the history books and the classroom. They are not for a national day of commemoration. Besides, we already have such a day. It marks those times when we stood together against a common enemy. The times when we united to fight facism and injustice. That is something worth remembering together. Our battles against each other are not. They are something we need to deal with, put right, and put behind us.

It was Otorohanga College students whose petition seeking a Land Wars Day is now being considered by the Maori Affairs Select Committee (make a submission here). Their efforts should be applauded. Their interest in our history and engagement in our political process is absolutely commendable. However to build kotahitanga in New Zealand, a more fruitful focus might be how to make Waitangi Day more truly the celebration that it should be. That is when we started our journey together. It is worth remembering.

Ewen McQueen
April 2016

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Spiritual Renewal, Treaty of Waitangi | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Such a garment as that !

Full moonIt was the week before Easter. William Fairburn was returning home at night to the Paihia mission station accompanied by a young Maori man. As their boat glided over the darkened waters of the Bay of Islands the young man pointed in wonder at the beautiful full moon rising. He acknowledged the Great God who had made it and declared “You cannot give such a garment as that!” Fairburn assured him that all who trusted in Jesus Christ would be clad in shining garments like that for eternity.

So it is written in the diary of Marianne Williams on Good Friday 1824. She wrote too of how the local chief Te Koki “after talking of the good Son of the great God, and of the ‘utu’ or payment he had made for our sins by his death, said, it would be very good for their children to understand all these things…”

History records that in the decades after that evening on the waters near Paihia, tens of thousands of Maori and their children did indeed hear and understand the good news of Jesus Christ – Te Rongopai. It changed the course of our history, laying the way for a Treaty and a union of two peoples. It continues to offer the greatest hope for our unity together now and into the future.

When you look up and see the full moon this week, remember that night 192 years ago in New Zealand. And remember that Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem this week so that peoples and nations to the uttermost ends of the earth might be clothed in the shining garments of the glory of God.

Ewen McQueen
March 2016

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No impact on domestic violence – it’s not OK

Hon Bill English“We have really had no impact, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on programmes, on the incidence of domestic violence in New Zealand…. Really no impact at all.” So declared Finance Minister the Hon Bill English last week (Stuff). It was an honest assessment. But it’s certainly not OK.

It is not just the scandalous waste of taxpayers money that is not OK. More important is the tragic waste of human life and ongoing suffering of thousands of New Zealanders, especially women and children.

This is not a problem that is insoluble. Something can be done. But only if our leaders face the truth about what has driven the increase in family violence in our nation over the last 30 years. It is not poverty. It is not a need for more education. It is not a need for awareness programmes such as the ridiculous “it’s not OK” campaign – as if anyone ever really thought it was.

The prime driver of family violence has been the normalisation and even promotion of a culture of relationship churn. Casual relationships, multiple partners, mum’s latest boyfriend – this is the relationship culture that drives violence, abuse and neglect. The jury is not out on this. It came back a long time ago with a clear verdict based on plenty of social science evidence (refer Green Paper on Vulnerable Children submission).

Human beings were not created for relationship churn. It produces insecurity, jealousy. mistrust, hurt, anger, and often violence. Human beings were created for loving, faithful commitment. The gold standard is marriage. The government could save hundreds of millions by actively affirming it rather than continually undermining it. More importantly it could start building a brighter future for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders by investing in a “programme” that actually works.

Ewen McQueen
March 2016

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Pope’s flawed critique of Trump

Pope FrancisPope Francis is right – the Gospel is about building bridges not walls. However in criticising Donald Trump last week over his proposed immigration policy (the big Wall) he was simply wrong.

Governments are not called, and indeed cannot be expected to govern by the Gospel. In an imperfect world full of disorder, chaos and evil, they are called to use the authority they have to maintain order. In so doing they create space for the transforming power of the message of Jesus Christ to renew the hearts and minds of people. This is basic New Testament theology

So when Pope Francis says of Trump “A person who thinks only about building walls… and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel,” he is overlooking context that is critical to the debate. Trump and other candidates with similar views are not running for church office. They are seeking political office as part of a governing authority that is mandated not to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven, but to rather maintain some semblance of order. To achieve this, walls (and other less “kindly” policies and actions) may sometimes be necessary, if not ideal.

The great reformation theologian Martin Luther in his famous work “On Secular Authority” put it like this,

If someone wanted to have the world ruled according to the gospel, and to abolish all secular law and the sword.. what do you imagine the effect would be ? ….Before you rule the world in the Christian and Gospel manner, be sure to fill it with true Christians.

Perhaps it is taking things a little far to wave the view of the founder of the Protestant church in the face of the Pope! However he is a humble and genuine man who would no doubt consider such views, regardless of their origin. To his credit, one could argue that he is so consumed with the amazing values of the coming Kingdom, that perhaps he has forgotten we still need our governments to deal with the one that is passing away.

Ewen McQueen
February 2016

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Trump breaks the monotone

donald-trump-make-america-greatDonald Trump is a breath of fresh air. His ideas may be simplistic. His statements sometimes outrageous. But he clearly believes in what he is doing. And his heartbeat resonates with the deepest streams of the American national psyche. This man is the message. When he says he wants to make America great again – he absolutely means it.

Of course the liberal New Zealand media can’t stand him. As usual they are doing their best to reduce him to caricatured package they can deliver to us whilst they smirk at how ridiculous he and the millions of Americans who support him are. Their reporting is more a reflection of their own small-mindedness and immaturity than it is an accurate portrayal of politics in the United States.

Perhaps the most telling point Trump makes is the criticism he has received from all sides about his “tone”. As he points out, ISIS are committing atrocities and perpetuating barbaric cruelty in a manner not seen for centuries. And yet he is the one being criticised for his “tone” in denouncing them.

Trump has the courage to say what needs to be said. In so doing he is breaking the media stranglehold on what is permitted to be said in our national debates. The fear of being of being media roasted for giving voice to ideas that offend the established paradigm, intimidates most politicians into bland platitudes. The result is the stifling monotone that prevails in political debate in most western countries.

Trump is one of those leaders who breaks the monotone. He says things that are not “allowed” to be said. Doing so breaks open the room and lets fresh air in.

Bono of U2 sings in one of his US concerts of how he loves America. “You got soul!” he cries.

Donald Trump has soul. I like him.

Ewen McQueen
February 2016

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Euthanasia advocates ignore public consequences

Assisted suicide advocates like to tell us that as autonomous self-determining individuals they have the right to determine the manner of their death. It is the classic proposition of libertarian individualists on every topic – it’s my business alone. If you don’t like it you don’t have to be involved. The problem is none of us are alone. We all live in a community where the private choices of individuals have public consequences for everyone.

With assisted suicide those public consequences will include many taxpayers being required to fund choices they hold profound objections to. MPs will be required to vote for budgets that include funding for an activity they may hold to be abhorrent. Health sector workers will be pressured to participate in supporting the provision of “services” they wish to have no part in. All this already occurs in New Zealand when it comes to terminating the lives of unborn children.

More important however is the impact on culture. Individualists like to think we all make our independent “self-determined” decisions in some cultural vacuum. But this is simply unrealistic. Culture has a huge impact on what is perceived to be the “right thing to do”. Legalising assisted suicide will normalise the concept of a “life not worth living”. It will promote acceptance of the idea of death as a solution. In a time of growing health costs and an ageing population it will then be a very short step to death as a duty.

Investigation into ending one’s life in NZ – Submission Ewen McQueen

Ewen McQueen
February 2016

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Protecting Children, Respect for Life, Spiritual Renewal | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Devoy pushes the invisible Christmas

Last week Dame Susan Devoy joined the movement to make Christmas invisible. The Auckland Migrant Service was just being “inclusive” she said, in excluding Christmas from its year-end function invitation. This week in the NZ Herald she was back-pedalling fast, suggesting this really was a minor issue and we would all do better getting angry about real issues like domestic violence and abuse.

In some ways I agree (refer my contribution in Stuff Nation this week on the need to face the real causes of child abuse). However if Devoy really thought it was a minor issue, one wonders why she felt the need to lend the weight of her office to pushing the cause.

More importantly, and this is where I disagree, Devoy doesn’t understand the obvious link between the decline in Christian faith in New Zealand and the growth in social problems like domestic violence and child abuse. Joining the movement to further erode the cultural significance of Christianity by making Christmas invisible will only makes matters worse.

One of the primary drivers of abuse in our nation is the move away from traditional marriage to the “modern family” forms. Whilst this is strenuously denied by those who advocate a socially liberal approach family life, there is now plenty of decades of research pointing clearly to this uncomfortable truth.

In contrast, for over 200 years now, the Christian Church in New Zealand has provided the primary moral, social and theological underpinning for the institution of marriage. The very life of the Church, it practices and teaching have always strongly affirmed the importance of marriage in our culture. And this affirmation is not merely incidental to the faith. It is the natural overflow of the inherent message of Christianity – that God has offered us faithful, loving, covenant relationship.

In light of this Dame Susan would be better lending her office to affirm efforts to celebrate Christmas, rather than efforts to sideline it in the name of “inclusiveness”. A renewal of true Christian faith across our nation would not only deal with many of our social problems, it would also be the surest way to build strong race relations in New Zealand.

Ewen McQueen
November 2015

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Honouring Marriage, Protecting Children, Spiritual Renewal | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

National identity more than a brand

NZ FlagLets keep the current New Zealand flag. When the alternatives appeared I was for a brief moment open to change. But any appeal they had due to be being fresh and new has quickly faded.  With the passage of only a few weeks, reflection upon them has revealed them for what they are. Shallow attempts to “re-brand” our nation.

In contrast as I walked up the green slopes of the Auckland Domain to the Museum this week, the flag flying high above it once again resonated in my soul. It holds a gravitas, a dignity, an authority that lifts it into a realm beyond the pretenders that are now on offer. It has stood the test of time.

In an age of  constant change to keep up with fashion, over a hundred years of faithful service is a treasure. It means our flag carries a mana not easily or quickly replaced. You don’t walk away from such precious things lightly.

The fact is that national identity runs much deeper than simply brand. It holds intangible values related to our long walk together as a people. The hopes and struggles, the tragedies and triumphs, the aspirations and heritage. These are all profoundly fused into the national psyche and character of the people of these islands.

In contrast “brand New Zealand” as some of our politicians like to call it, doesn’t even come close to expressing the depth of what our current flag proclaims. Long may it continue fly over our journey together.

Ewen McQueen
October 2015

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Taranaki Settlement – another quiet step forward

Whilst the New Zealand media worked themselves into a frenzy last week over the refugee situation in Europe, they largely missed another major step forward in the Treaty settlement journey. On Saturday, Taranaki Iwi and the Crown signed a deed of settlement involving apology and redress for Crown actions in Taranaki that ignited the land wars across the North Island.

Given the significance of what happened in Taranaki it is no surprise that the settlement is one of the largest. It includes $70 million compensation for loss of land and returns various sites around the west coast to Iwi. It also acknowledges the injustice and devastation caused by one of the most notorious episodes in the history of the land wars – the sacking of Parihaka. This peaceful centre of non-violent protest was invaded and destroyed by Crown forces leaving a legacy of pain and suffering.

But now things are being put right. Quietly, away from the limelight, Taranaki Iwi and the the Hon Chris Finlayson are getting on with dealing with the past and laying the foundation for a better future. When it comes to nation building, Finlayson is the current Government’s star performer. The Prime Minister’s campaign to change the flag doesn’t even come close in terms of its significance.

However to John Key’s credit, he has given Finlayson a clear mandate to progress the Treaty settlements and is strongly supportive. Perhaps Key would do well to more visibly lend his weight to the process. Standing alongside his Treaty Settlements minister at Parihaka would have helped focus media attention where it should have been.

Of course the most credit for this good news story is not due to the politicians (although they deserve their share). It is due to the Taranaki Iwi who in spite of losing so much have acknowledged it is simply not possible to fully compensate them. As such they have accepted the settlement as fair and final and agreed that:

the Crown is released and discharged from all obligations and liabilities in respect of the historical claims”

That is truly nation building.

Ewen McQueen
September 2015


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