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The Salvation Army and the Treaty of Waitangi

A Maori marae

The Salvation Army in New Zealand: Bicultural Statement

Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi) is the foundation of our partnership together with Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand—the founding of our biculturalism. But this partnership has had a rocky pathway, with complex and often painful histories since the Treaty was signed in 1840.

The Salvation Army is committed to the principles of partnership, protection and participation inherent in the Treaty of Waitangi.

New Zealand was founded on the basis of bicultural partnership. The Salvation Army aims to work together with Māori in all our church and social service settings, sharing our skills and supporting one another.

The inequalities that exist between Māori and non-Māori in New Zealand cause Māori to face considerable challenges and hardships. The Salvation Army strives to see Māori protected from the social and economic causes of inequality so they can achieve the best possible outcomes for themselves in their own land.

We greatly value the many Māori serving within The Salvation Army as church leaders, staff and volunteers. These individuals enrich our movement and strengthen our mission.

Historical Background

The following statement was issued by the Territorial Coordinating Council of The Salvation Army in Aotearoa New Zealand in March 1997.


In 1987, in a motivational paper ‘The Agenda for the Future’, General Eva Burrows called on all Salvationists:

  • to oppose all forms of man’s inhumanity to man, and to take even more seriously Christ’s call to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and shelter the homeless
  • to withstand every form of prejudice – racial, tribal, national, sexist, economic and social
  • to a new awareness of the interdependence of mankind and our responsibility for each other.


As a founder member of the Conference of Churches in Aotearoa-New Zealand, The Salvation Army has accepted the premise which ‘acknowledges Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the covenant establishing our nation on the basis of bi-cultural partnership’.

Māori, as tangata whenua, were the owners of the land at the time of Pākehā settlement under the British Crown. The descendants of those and subsequent settlers, and more recent immigrants, have a responsibility to honour the Treaty.

The Treaty signed in 1840 was a covenant between two independent peoples, and though it was regarded for many years as simply an historical document, its provisions are still relevant.

The continuing role of the Treaty in New Zealand, and the resolution of Maori grievances and claims are dependent on the political will of Government. While the Army is not in a position to comment on particular issues, it welcomes settlements already achieved, and is firmly of the opinion that the reconciliation process should be fair and honourable to all concerned.

The Salvation Army recognises that as an organisation operating in Aotearoa New Zealand, it has the responsibility to establish and maintain a good bicultural partnership. This we believe can be achieved by recognising Christ as the head of the Church who through the power of the Holy Spirit reconciles all people as one.

To achieve this we will:

  • affirm the importance of bi-cultural partnership
  • provide a forum within The Salvation Army through which Māori voices and concerns can be expressed
  • include appropriately in worship, building and signage, the unique bicultural nature of our nation
  • work towards ensuring Māori feel acceptance and safety within The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is committed to continuing with the outworking of these objectives.