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Nathan Shaw: "Aotearoa and the Sound of Covenant"

Nathan Shaw, Dunedin, New Zealand
Mar 30, 2024

The Treaty of Waitangi

Recently, I was doing some research at the National Library in Wellington, New Zealand. After spending the day researching, I decided to have a look around the library. On the ground floor there was a walk-in display. I entered, not knowing what to expect. Apart from faint lights, the interior was mostly dark. The lights highlighted buttons which, once pushed, lit up the various displays.

To my surprise, the displays contained the original signed documents of New Zealand's Declaration of Independence (1835), the Treaty of Waitangi (1840), and the Women's Suffrage Petition (1893). God opened my ears to hear the sound of covenant that surrounds the Treaty of Waitangi.

(The Treaty of Waitangi "...was drafted with the intention of establishing a British governor of New Zealand, recognizing Maori ownership of their lands, forests and other possessions, and giving Maori the rights of British subjects. It was intended to ensure that when the declaration of British sovereignty over New Zealand was made... the Maori people would not feel that their rights had been ignored." –Wikipedia)

The Sound of Covenant

The sound of covenant has a profound and foundational authority in Aotearoa (New Zealand), but few are hearing it. In the spirit realm, this sound resonates throughout the entire nation. It would be inaccurate to say that the sound is merely over the nation. Rather, it permeates everything—including sky, land, peoples, and sea. The sound is both rich and deep, and rises and falls in intensity like large ocean swells. Human voices, musical instruments, and sounds of nature are woven throughout the sound like threads in an intricate tapestry. (Photo via Flickr)

The cultural sounds of Maori (the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand) and Pakeha (New Zealanders with no Polynesian ethnic ancestry, primarily European) are distinct, and yet they dance together with a beauty that can only be initiated by Heaven—neither sound dominating the other.

Going Back to Take the Right Road

When the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, there were about 100,000 Maori and only 2,000 Europeans in New Zealand. At that time, Maori were the dominant culture. It didn't take long for this to change. When European culture became the dominant culture, many of the foundational principles of the treaty were forgotten or ignored. The Treaty of Waitangi was about protecting Maori, their cultural identity, lifestyle, and well being. It certainly wasn't about trampling them underfoot.

Recently I obtained a copy of Harry Evison's history of Ngai Tahu called Te Wai Pounamu, The Greenstone Island: A History of the Southern Maori During the European Colonization of New Zealand. Ngai Tahu had jurisdiction over most of the South Island. Through the process of colonization, they lost more of their ancestral lands than any other Maori tribe. For me, the book was a page turner, but it was gut-wrenching to read. Throughout their history, the tribe had to face repeated betrayals, manipulations, false promises, and straight-out dishonesty. Sadly, this history is not well known. There are important questions that need to be asked by Europeans in New Zealand: Do we, as Europeans, truly understand Maori as a people? And do we truly understand the betrayals and injustices they have experienced since 1840?

The Bible makes it clear that righteousness and justice are the foundations of God's throne (Psalms 89:14, 97:2). As a nation we cannot experience the full authority of God's Kingdom purposes if serious issues of injustice are glossed over. Early in our history we took the wrong road. The solution isn't to blithely continue in the wrong direction. The solution is to go back to the intersection where we took the wrong road and then choose the right one. The greatest responsibility to initiate reconciliation lies with the dominant culture. What is needed most is humility and understanding.

The Four Stages of Restoration in This Covenant Partnership

In the midst of the present contention over cultural expression, we must understand God's purpose to bring forth identity and a unique sound over the nation. God is restoring and redeeming culture, identity, and language. Heaven has strategies for healing and reconciliation that are yet to be discovered and implemented. What is our role? We must discern and respond to the sound of covenant, and not be intimidated by the sounds of contention and strife. Satan intends to use contention and the resulting conflict to drown out Heaven's initiatives. Contention and strife increases chaos, but when God speaks, chaos gives way to creation (Genesis 1).

Those in this culture who have the courage to initiate healing and bring about a true restoration of ethnic identity can avert much of the agenda of divisive, political spirits, the re-establishing of ancient gods, and the resurgence of feuding tribalism—whether that tribalism is Maori or Pakeha. Two people can say exactly the same thing. One person is hearing the sound of covenant; the other person is not. One voice brings healing, restoration, identity, and destiny; the other voice brings divisive political spirits and feuding tribalism. If we fail to become part of the evolving narrative, others will. Here is what I believe is a foundational truth: The sound of covenant that resonates throughout Aotearoa is, in its own unique way, far more powerful than any other sound. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

By responding with humility and wisdom, the demands that once divided will actually give way to dialogue between covenant partners. Acknowledgment and understanding will go a long way toward the necessary healing. Permission to have a voice, an expression, a language, and a culture will help restore the covenant partner at the table. Before you can have expression, you need to know who you are. Words are more than just a means of communication; they express who we are. As Maori elder Sir Timoti Karetu has said, "Ko toku reo toku ohooho, ko toku reo toku mapihi maurea." ("My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul.")

Further to this, words have creative power (Genesis 1). From a biblical perspective, origins and identity are always important. There are four stages to this process of restoration: origins, identity, expression, and finally, creativity.

God's Glory Expressed through Every Nation, Tribe, People, and Language

The sound of covenant resonates throughout the land and the peoples of the land. Regardless, I believe we have yet to truly stop and discover who we are as a nation. The sound of covenant can be heard not only in the spirit realm, but also in the voice of the Maori people. "[F]aith comes by hearing and hearing, by the word of God (Romans 10:17). To put it another way, faith comes by stopping to listen to the word of God. For those who can hear it, God is speaking through the voice of Maori—both past and present. Covenant partners are suppose to have a voice, and an expression, and an authority.

The Bible makes it clear that God's glory will be expressed through every nation, tribe, people, and language (Revelation 7:9). Aotearoa is a prophetic forerunner nation, destined to release and amplify the sound of covenant among the nations of the earth, and before the throne of God in Heaven.


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Nathan Shaw
Heart of David Ministries

Nathan Shaw helps bring individuals and churches into dynamic encounters with God's indescribable love. Over the last twenty years he has been instrumental in ushering in significant moves of the Spirit in over ten different nations. Many have experienced life-changing prophetic encounters and dramatic visitations from God. Nathan is the author of two books: Passion and Fire and Unto the Least of These. Nathan is senior pastor at Fire and Destiny Centre, Dunedin and Celebration Church, Mosgiel.


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