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Reflections on Waitangi Day

Reflections on Waitangi Day

In consideration of Waitangi Day, our team has been reflecting on what Te Tiriti o Waitangi means to them; both personally and in their work.  As the founding document of Aotearoa, most of us are aware of Te Tiriti, many of us have an understanding of Te Tiriti, and fewer of us understand why this document which is celebrated is also a source of contention.  Below we share the views of two of our team members and encourage others to take the time to reflect on your own views.

Berea Morrison (Ngā Ruahine, Ngāti Ruanui, Registered Mental Health Nurse)

Every year Waitangi day comes up and I am always whakamā, hōhā and confused.  It is a reminder of a treaty that was never ratified into law and a strained relationship with the crown. This year I have chosen to share my personal reflections on Te Tiriti o te Waitangi with you all. I want to make it clear that I speak for myself and not all tangata whenua.

I understand why people would want to celebrate the unique relationship between Māori and the crown but I think we have a long way to go before I participate in this celebration.

In my mahi, I am a fierce advocate for upholding those values that underpin the equal and equitable access to healthcare for Māori as provisioned by Te Tiriti o Waitangi and The Waitangi Act. I am constantly faced with situations where Māori have not received adequate, equitable or fair treatment. It is my privilege and my duty to help tangata whai I te ora and whānau to navigate a system that was not developed by Māori or for Māori.

I am equally aware of the privilege I have being what I refer to as a “white passing Māori”, I could choose to sit in the space of tauiwi, however I chose to sit with my tipuna which are both Māori and non-Maori.

My aim as a health professional and as tangata whenua is to continually increase my depth of knowledge of both Te Ao Pākeha and Te Ao Māori. This is so I can provide the right care that builds a people who have tino rangatiratanga of their lives, whānau and iwi. When true tino rangatiratanga is achieved, I will celebrate.


Jane Haste (Registered Social Worker)

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is vital to me as Tauiwi/Pākehā as to me it is THE agreement or contract as to how my ancestors have come to be here, and the way I see it, any Tauiwi/ Non-Māori are here in Aotearoa by the provisions of Te Tiriti, and that comes with responsibilities.   Our Kaiwhakahaere once described it using the metaphor of a house. When the houseguests became unruly, Tangata Whenua looked to the guests' leaders to direct those visitors on ways to be, if they were to stay, so as to protect the inhabitants of the house.  The treaty forms this agreement.   Due to this (and the fact that some of my ancestors were here at the time of the signing of Te Tiriti), I consider myself Tangata Tiriti. However, as many of us know (and Tangata Whenua directly experience on a day-to-day basis) we have not been good treaty partners, and not lived up to our side of the agreement.  My aim is to strive to be a good treaty partner and support my family and others (Tauiwi) to be the same. Sadly, debate, discussion and progress towards a Tiriti-based future is impeded by racism, white privilege and eurocentrism, fear, and miseducation alongside those mainstream media responses that emerge at this time and seem determined to antagonise just to be divisive. I get frustrated by the constant minimisation of Te Tiriti.  For example, the fact that every job interview seems to have a standard “the Treaty” interview question – just to tick that HR box -  and worse  - you can now just google search the answer to it!  So my focus at this time of Waitangi Day 2022 is to;  Be inquisitive, be genuine in my own reflections and responses (rather than follow Uncle Google), and focus on the kaupapa - not the Briscoes sale!

If you are willing to take time to reflect this Waitangi Day, we would suggest the following starting points:

  • What does TTOW mean for me (as Tauiwi, Pākehā, Tangata Whenua, health practitioner/Social Worker...)
  • How does Te Tiriti O Waitangi, which was signed 182 years ago,  impact on Hauora, health and wellbeing today?


If you would like some further information, here are some useful links:

Online korero - Discussions, Panels  https://www.instagram.com/waitangiday/?hl=en

A short video on Te Tiriti O Waitangi, colonisation and racism (including racial bias in the health system):


A discussion on what it means to be Tangata Tiriti:



Tags: Te Tiriti o Waitangi; tino rangatiratanga; Māori

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