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Migrant Communities Step Up To The Mantle Of Tangata Tiriti

New Zealand’s multicultural communities are leading the hikoi to a Treaty-based Aotearoa this weekend (16-17th April 2021). Multicultural New Zealand (MNZ) is taking 50 community leaders from around New Zealand on a journey from Auckland up to Waitangi to plant a tree on the Grounds as a gesture of commitment to te Tiriti o Waitangi.

MNZ’s President, Pancha Narayanan, sees this as a momentous occasion. “Never before in the history of te Tiriti has something like this been done,” he says. “We are only able to call this beautiful land home by the grace of tangata whenua and te Tiriti. We want to show that we recognise that, and that we are ready to honour our side of the agreement.”

Guided by hau kainga (local people) from Whangarei, including Northland rangatira Taipari Munro, the group will also be stopping in Whangarei and Ruapekapeka to learn more of the history and meaning of te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Narayanan emphasises that it is specifically the reo Maori version of te Tiriti that the multicultural communities will endorse. He also acknowledges that this gesture does not come without a long history of whakawhanaungatanga (building relationships) with tangata whenua first. “We do not see enough recent migrants with a relationship with tangata whenua, or an awareness of te Tiriti. This needs to change. How can we call New Zealand home if we have not been welcomed by the people of this land or we do not know its founding agreement?”

The kaupapa has received national applause from senior figures in both iwi and crown bodies, and is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, the Ministry of Social Development, and the Office of Ethnic Communities. The wider kaupapa that this hikoi belongs to is MNZ’s “Huarahi Hou” initiative.

MNZ have, with the help of the Northland haukainga (local people), Multicultural Whangarei, chosen a strong young Kauri tree to plant on the Waitangi Grounds. The tree has been named “Mokopuna”, and is dedicated to a united, Tiriti-based, multicultural future for Aotearoa. The group will be formally welcomed onto the grounds by mana whenua to plant the tree. “It will be a historic day; we can all feel the wairua building.” Narayanan comments. “We want all of our ancestors to see this.”

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