«TE WIREMU, TE PUHIPI, HE WAKAPUTANGA ME TE TIRITI HENRY WILLIAMS, JAMES BUSBY, A DECLARATION AND THE TREATY A report commissioned by the Waitangi ...»
Ki te mea ra ka wakarangatiratia koutou e te Tamaiti, he tino rangatira ano koutou (v 36).229 (If the son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (KJV)) In this teaching, Jesus was using a human relationship – that of master and slave to illustrate the truth that if a person followed him then he would be a member of God’s household and would not be a slave of anybody or anything, in particular sin. The missionary translators (William Williams, James Shepherd and W G Puckey) used social relationships existing in Māori society 228 Further analysis of the uses of rangatiratanga in the Bible and Evangelical views of the nature of government will take place in chapter four, with reference to the Treaty translation.
229 W Williams, J Shepherd and W G Puckey, trans, Ko te Kawenata Hou o To Tatou Ariki te Kai Wakaora a Ihu Karaiti (British and Foreign Bible Society: Ranana/London, 1841), (http://books.google.com/books, 27 July 2009).
This is the 1841 printing of the original 1838 Paihia edition.
78 – rangatira and pononga(slave or servant) in particular – in a similar way. Two aspects of this
usage are noteworthy. First was the way they turned rangatira from a noun into a (passive) verb:
rangatira became wakarangatiratia. They used the social status of rangatira to convey the spiritual state of being free from (or independent of) sin. Second, they transformed this spiritual connotation back into a social one in the startling conclusion that ‘you (all) shall be true rangatira’ – in the phrase ‘he tino rangatira ano koutou’. This is indicates the missionaries’ general view that, with the conversion of chiefs and people, New Zealand’s (Māori) inhabitants would all become ‘rangatira’, liberated from all forms of slavery, social and spiritual.230 Another New Testament passage illuminates the missionaries’ understanding of Christian faith and human freedom. The book of Galatians inspired the Reformation. It convinced Martin Luther that only faith in Christ could save him, that he could not by saved by conformity to any human standard or law.231 For Evangelicals, justification by faith was the central doctrine.232
Galatians chapter 5, verse one, in the 1837 New Testament, read:
E tu ra koutou i te rangatiratanga kua wakarangatiratia nei tatou e te Karaiti, a kei puritia ano hoki koutou e te herenga o te ponongatanga.233 (Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (KJV)) Just as with the passage from John above, freedom or liberty in Christ (‘rangatiratanga’) contrasts with slavery (‘ponongatanga’), even if it is slavery to human laws and traditions.
‘Rangatiratanga’ denotes a state of true human and spiritual freedom. In Te Kawenata Hou it 230 As Dingle argues, faith in Christ and the atoning power of the Cross, together with the Word of God (the Bible), was viewed by the CMS missionaries as ‘the means of civilization’, as the foundation of all transformation, which was firstly moral and spiritual and then material, social, and political, see Dingle, ‘Gospel Power for Civilization’, ch 5.
231 Galatians is often referred to as ‘Luther’s book’ for this reason. A key verse was 2:16: ‘Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.’ (KJV) 232 B Hilton, A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People? England 1783-1846 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006), pp 179,182,183. Justification by Faith was the central doctrine – a ‘festish’ – for evangelical Clapham Anglicans, says Hilton. Anselm and Calvin were sources for the conception of sin as a ‘debt’ that had to be ‘redeemed’ by Christ’s atoning work.
233 W Williams, J Shepherd and W G Puckey, trans, Ko te Kawenata Hou.
79 often represents ‘the kingdom of Heaven’ (‘te rangatiratanga o te rangi’) or ‘the kingdom of God’ (‘te rangatiratanga o te Atua’). Although in this sense, the word rangatiratanga meant the rule or reign of God, it also referred to a state in which all human beings were rangatira – free from sin, free to be children of God. This was partially realized in this life, only fully realised in heaven or in the next world. In a later translation of the New Testament, Romans 8: 21 described this end state in this manner: ‘Tera te mea hanga e whakaateatia mai i ta te pirau whakataurekarekatanga, whakarangatiratia ake ki roto ki te kororia o nga tamariki a te Atua’.234 (‘Because the creature [or creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (KJV)). The use of the root word ‘taurekareka’ for ‘bondage’ in this 1868 translation is stronger than the word ‘pononga’ used in the 1837 translation passages cited above, but the use of ‘whakarangatiratia’ for liberty or liberated is consistent with the 1837 translation.
These biblical uses of ‘rangatira’ and its variants depart from concepts of the law of nations or an ‘independence’ or ‘freedom’ seen in merely secular terms. Rather, a British Protestant language of liberty that was inherently theological in tone can be seen as latent within both texts of He Wakaputanga. This liberty was fundamentally a ‘spiritual’ one, conceived as a relationship with the Creator restored through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. In being regenerated by the atoning work of the Cross, by the action of the Word of God and the Spirit of God, individuals and communities would be enabled to lead healthy, moral, and productive lives. The ‘fruit’ of this process would be civilization, that is, social well being, peace, and material prosperity.235 The other dimension to this spiritual liberty was freedom from the dominion of Satan. Thomas Fowell Buxton, prominent Evangelical and successor to William Wilberforce in leading the antislavery campaign in the Commons, wrote concerning his preparation of the Aborigines Committee Report in 1837: ‘The next few months are very important, as in them the Aborigines 234
Ko te Paipera Tapu, ara, ko te Kawenata Tawhito me te Kawenata Hou (British and Foreign Bible Society:
Ranana/London, 1868), (http://books.google.com/books, 1 August 2009).
235 D Coates, The Principles, Objects, and Plan of the New-Zealand Association Examined, in a Letter to the Right Hon. Lord Glenelg, Secretary of State for the Colonies (London: Hatchards, 1837), p 41. Coates argued that the New Zealand mission should be left alone and colonization prevented for fifty years to enable the diffusion of ‘the blessings of Christianity, and its inseparable fruits – civilization, and social well being’.
80 Report will be settled. Most earnestly I pray that it may stop the oppressor, and open the door for the admission of multitudes of heathens to the fold of Christ.’236 The ‘oppressor’ could be construed as a reference to the pernicious effects of European colonization on aboriginal peoples, but also, behind this, to the dominion of Satan, who worked through men and their systems or institutions. This extract from Buxton’s private papers shows that he envisaged his work in primarily theological terms. In considering the relationship between missions and British
Empire, Rowan Strong writes that:
for the Evangelicals of the nineteenth-century New Zealand mission, as much as the Anglicans of the eighteenth century, the world of the British Empire – indeed, the globe generally – was divided ontologically and theologically into Truth and Error, God and Satan, Light and Darkness. So the imperialism of these missionaries was primarily theological, rather than political or economic. Their concern in the colonies of the British Empire was to replace Satanic darkness, and his evil errors with the true light of the gospel of Christ of the one and only God.237 This ‘Satanic darkness’ could be represented as much by the activity of immoral Europeans as it could native superstitions and customs. Coates’, Stephen’s, and Glenelg’s references to the ‘evil’ inflicted on Māori in their accounts of the ‘state of New Zealand’ during 1837-1839, can be understood in this light.
Beyond concepts of spiritual and civil liberty, Evangelicals conceived the ‘nation’ itself in theological terms. Buxton’s son (the editor of his Memoirs) wrote that he ‘was anxious to render [the Aborigines] report a sort of manual for the future treatment of aboriginal nations in connection with our colonies’.238 The Report spoke of the ‘national independence’ of the ‘SouthSea Islands’, that is, the islands of New Zealand and the Pacific. The frailty of these ‘foreign states’, which lacked civil governments or courts to punish (British) offenders or regular armed forces to ward off foreign powers, was problematic. The desire to respect their national 236 C Buxton, ed, Memoirs of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, Bart, fifth edition, (London: John Murray, 1866), (http://books.google.com/books, 4 August 2009), p 425.
237 R Strong, Anglicanism and the British Empire c.1700-1850 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p 263.
238 Buxton, ed, Memoirs of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, p 425.
81 independence and yet the need to control British subjects was doubly problematic, indicated the Aborigines Report.239 Dandeson Coates, lay secretary of the CMS, glossed the Report’s conclusions by saying that any scheme of Government interference in New Zealand was to be ‘grounded in the recognition and maintenance of Native sovereignty’, (which was true except the Report had not used the phrase ‘Native sovereignty’).240 Issues of extra-territoriality aside, the fact that the Report did not ascribe ‘national independence’ and ‘foreign state’ status to these island nations based on the existence of declarations of independence or the presence of civil government or civilization, was noteworthy. Yet if their independence was not founded in some constituted authority or a declaration of such, then on what was it founded? The answer must be found in the Evangelical provenance of the Report and the theological perspective of its key players. A long tradition of Biblical interpretation saw the nation as a moral person: God both made and dealt with nations.241 William Wilberforce, in his 1807 work justifying the abolition of the slave trade, made a portion of Acts 17:26 appear on the title page: ‘God hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth’.242 Clark confirms that at this period national identity was still seen by many in terms of a providential or God-ordained history (along with traditions of liberty) and not in terms of an ethnic, language or culture-based nationalism.243 On this view, the Māori nation of the 1830s was independent and free because it had been ordained by the Creator as an independent nation; the fact that it was characterised by people ethnically Polynesian or who shared a common language was a secondary consideration. Moreover, in the view of Buxton, Coates, Williams and their Evangelical contemporaries, it was independent and free quite apart from any declaration of independence.244 239 Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Aboriginal Tribes, (British Settlements), Reprinted, with Comments, by the ‘Aborigines Protection Society’ (London: Ball and Chambers, 1837), (http://books.google.com/books, 4 August 2009), pp 128-130, (hereafter ‘Aborigines Report’).
240 Coates, The Principles, Objects, and Plan of the New-Zealand Association Examined, p 32.
241 Clark, The Language of Liberty 1660-1832, p 55.
242 W Wilberforce, A Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade; Addressed to the Freeholders and Other Inhabitants of Yorkshire (London: T Cadell and W Davies, 1807), (http://books.google.com/books, 27 July 2009).
243 Clark, The Language of Liberty 1660-1832, pp 52-55.
244 And it was truly free because this ‘nation’ or ‘people’ embraced Christianity and the freedom of Christ, both spiritual and social, (as in the above analysis of texts from Te Kawenata Hou). Busby wrote to Buxton on 12 March 1833 from Sydney. He was fervently opposed to the replacement of NSW Governor Darling by Bourke, see Busby Ltrs qMS  ATL, pp 3-5.
82 Other contemporary sources, besides Evangelical ones, demonstrate that the nation was not conceived in ethnic nation-state terms. Johnson’s Dictionary (1824) defined ‘nation’ simply as ‘a people distinguished from another people’. The Dictionary defined ‘national’ as ‘publick, general, not private, not particular’, and ‘nationality’ very simply as ‘national character’.245 The 1837 Te Kawenata Hou rendered the Acts 26 passage quoted by Wilberforce (above) as: ‘A ka oti i a ia te hanga ki te toto tahi nga iwi katoa o nga tangata hei noho i te mata katoa o te wenua’.
The Māori term ‘iwi’ paralleled well the English word ‘nation’. The application of the word ‘nation’ to North American tribes is a pertinent comparison. These definitions contrast with the Concise Oxford (1995) which defined ‘nation’ in the terms moderns have come to think of it as ‘a community of people of mainly common descent, history, language, etc., forming a state or inhabiting a territory’. The last phrase gives this definition its particularly nation-statist flavour.
However, if we are looking for this later nineteenth century nation-state centred conception of the 1835 Declaration, we will struggle to find it. Rather, the missionary translators of the Declaration understood nations and people-groups to have divine origins. Their own nation not only had divine origins but had been long influenced by Christianity, and in the Providence of God it had become a leading Protestant nation amongst the nations of the world. Such ‘nationalist’ sentiments were balanced by the Evangelical conviction that all peoples of the world were equal before God in terms of salvation. This conception of universal humanity was probably more important in Evangelical thought than primitive nationalism or patriotism.