Author of Bible & Treaty
Keith Newman is a passionate advocate for the Bible and the Treaty of Waitangi, the two founding documents that he believes should continue to be viewed in tandem for the outworking of a brighter, more just and balanced future for Aotearoa-New Zealand.
He says, the early missionaries had a pivotal role convincing biblically aware Maori to sign the Treaty of Waitangi as a spiritual kawenata (covenant) and that; alongside the more holistic Maori worldview (Te Ao Maori), needs to be honoured in Treaty-based decision making today.
However, Newman wonders whether the modern day representatives of the missionaries, the church and its various denominations and agencies, are serious about ensuring Treaty partners walk together in unity and equality as participating partners.
“Are we using our resources, influence and capacity for love and service to facilitate hope, unity and healthy bi-cultural relationships, or are we asleep at the wheel?”
Newman, a journalist with over 45 years experience and author of five New Zealand history books, says the breakdown of our western-based systems suggests there’s an urgent need for a more creative and indigenous approach across all sectors, including the church.
In his public presentations, Newman delivers a ‘backward into the future’ overview of where we have come from as a nation and where we’re heading, combining inspiration and hard information, the practical and the prophetic.
Newman takes us back to the earliest Maori engagements with the missionaries, through the Musket Wars to the Land Wars, the rise of the Maori prophetic movements to T.W Ratana and modern Maori cultural and spiritual awakenings or revivals.
Newman wonders whether it might take a new generation of radicals with “collaborative, out of the box indigenous, holistic and spiritual thinking” to wake us up to fresh and more connected ways of thinking and acting?
“We need entrepreneurs, innovators and lateral thinkers to inject heart, life and vision to inspires all of us to do our best but it seems we’ve often settled for “bureaucratic bullying, box ticking and endless reports that too often discourage new ideas and crush creativity”.
Part of the solution, he suggests, is better connectivity and sharing of ideas, resources and expertise across church and social networks and more effective collaboration with central and local government agencies.
He believes the pervasiveness of communications technology and social media need to be harnessed to strengthen community networks otherwise they’ll increasingly become instruments of consumerism and a new wave of digital colonisation.
Newman says it’s time for a new conversation; with a more balanced and insightful understanding of how Bible and the Treaty principles can work together with both partners around the decision-making tables. “The first step maybe to look at our biases around the true meaning and heritage of both documents.