Hello now to Andrew McRae for this Monday's Faith and Works.
Hello Wayne. Tonight, in Faith and Works, the growing relationship
between the Maori community and the Bahá'í Faith.
Unity through diversity, one of the main principles of the Bahá'í Faith,
strikes a chord with indigenous peoples world-wide, and Maori appear to be no
exception. Bahá'í Faith have been conducting a series of hui around the
country, where it runs what it call Nine-Day Institutes, an intensive spiritual
process open to all.
Conducting the Nine-Day institutes in the Wanganui region over the last few
weeks have been Bahá'ís Huti Toataua and Hedi Moani. Huti Toataua believes the
Faith will develop within the Maori community because diverseness within
society is encouraged.
It seems to be that, with a lot of the conflict and the seeking of the Maori
for justice, there appears to be a growing interest. Maori are looking for new
ways of addressing justice for themselves and their people as well as looking
for some kind of system that's based on spirituality. In this search it has led
a lot of Maori people back to their own Maori Faiths which has been on...
...when you look at religious base a lot of our Maori are going back to nga
With some of the activities that we've been carrying out recently we've
discovered, with many Maori that come to our hui or wananga that we hold, they
relate very well and very easily to the spiritual base, the spiritual teachings
of the Bahá'í Faith.
In terms of the concept we hear about in recent times -- land occupations, that
sort of thing -- how can the Bahá'í Faith help the Maori community
The issue of justice is one -- where Maori are seeking justice. That's in line
the principle of the Bahá'í Faith which is justice -- one of the principles.
But, at the same time, Maori are very much encouraged to be obedient to the
Again, back to the principle of unity in diversity, at the same time we're able
to also to hold fast to our tikanga, our kawa, our land, our traditions, our
culture in every way possible. But at the same time it's quite a fine line to
walk, as a Maori and as a Bahá'í, to be obedient to the government -- being
aware of the history and yet also finding justice in whatever way we can and
that means the true justice being what is right the people, yeah.
To start with, we look at the reason why the Maoris (are) interest(ed) in the
Bahá'í Faith. And it's quite interesting that the Bahá'í Faith is the only
other religion than Christianity that, in any significant way, has penetrated
the heart of Maoridom, and the Pacific region as well. So we can look into that
and say why. And one of the interesting aspects of the Faith, and its
relationship to the Maori culture, is that the Bahá'í Faith has not come to
this country with a culture. Christianity came after almost 2000 years, and
what came to New Zealand about 150 years ago was a Western Christianity. It
was a religion that already had married and had children by a culture. It was
totally amalgamated with a culture. Now the Bahá'í Faith comes here without a
culture. We don't have a waka or a canoe that we carry and we call it our
culture or canoe. So the Maoris can keep their waka. They can keep their
culture and background and heritage and ancestry. And just accept the
principles of a new and living and a pure religion. There is no competition
with their culture.
Within the Maori community are you finding that more are approaching you in
We've had some exciting events happenoing in regard to teaching the Maori, and
it's at a tender and developing stage, and maybe in the months to come we'll
have a lot more to speak of in that regard. I think our Maori Bahá'ís are going
through a very exciting process of Nine-Day Teaching Institutes and this
process that was brought here to New Zealand by Hazel Lovelace, who's an
Alaskan Tlingit Indian, she left this beautiful legacy with us that's been
going on in Alaska for about 20 years or more.
And this process that, for nine days, a number of people get together, often on
a marae. And it's particularly apt to the Maori culture and the marae style.
And they say prayers, they meditate, they read of the Holy Writings and they
share their thoughts about that. And, in this way, they rediscover their
spirituality. They rediscover a new source of strength and hope and
revivification in fact.
And we've seen tremendous results come out. And we've had ten of these already
(that) have taken place throughout New Zealand, and there are many more booked.
so we forsee that for years to come this will be a tool used especially by the
Maori Bahá'ís throughout New Zealand and particularly on the maraes to
revitalise the community. Both Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís are now attending these
Huti: It seems to me that my people are looking. They're searching for answers
elsewhere because they're actually not finding them in the system where we are
now. There seems to be a great need for getting back to a spiritual base. So a
lot of Maori who are not Bahá'í are really excited about Nine-Day Institutes;
having seen the results from some of their own friends or whanau, and are
really keen to perhaps encourage more in their community. yeah, it's a very
Glossary: (these are only rough translations)
hui - gathering nga
Atua Maori - traditional Maori Gods.
wananga - study group
tikanga - customs
kawa - protocol
marae - meeting-ground
whanau - extended family