Planting new roots at Aotearoa's birthplace

By Te Ao - Māori News

More than 50 leaders of multicultural communities around Aotearoa decided they wanted a better understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi, so they travelled to Waitangi recently to find out more.

Under the guidance of haukainga, they also planted a kauri tree on the Treaty grounds to mark their recognition and endorsement of the te reo version of the treaty - and to plant their roots as Treaty partners.

They hope other immigrants will visit too.

Taipari Munro says, "The goal of this journey is for people to come here and learn about the Treaty of Waitangi.

"Immigrants who come to New Zealand should celebrate, learn and believe in the Treaty and its meaning. There is a difference between the English and Māori versions."

Multicultural NZ president Pancha Narayanan says the group came to honour the te reo version of the treaty as a constitutional document, "and as a part of that, to plant a tree to symbolise our recognition of the treaty."

Narayanan says this hīkoi was born from a need for immigrants to better understand their place in New Zealand society.

He says many immigrants live here without building a relationship with Māori and this needs to change.

"When migrants come into this country, they need to be given some induction. What we want is that multicultural people recognise tangata whenua as first nation people, that we also seek their engagement in policy development. Promoting greater Māori participation in policy can bring better settlement outcome for migrants."

And he says they hope "for a future where these are journeys, these are pilgrimages, communities do on their own."