Catholic Church should apologise for land confiscations

The Catholic Church should apologise for its role in the confiscation of Māori land and colonisation, says the New Zealand Māori Council .

A pivotal part of this involves the “Doctrine of Discovery”. This doctrine (which is enshrined in Catholic law) was used internationally as justification for Christians to claim land belonging to non-Christians.

Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki says the Council’s request for an apology came after a number of hui last year, aimed at addressing issues of historic racism amid the anniversary of Captain Cook.

“Right across the indigenous world, from Canada to Australia to the South American countries, such as Brazil and Argentina, were claimed by those European monarchies as if no-one lived there, and it was a terrible time for many people”.

“In fact a lot of cultures were extinguished, their language was extinguished, and Australia had seen the extinguishment of literally dozens, if not hundreds, of indigenous languages.”

Tukaki says he Catholic Church in New Zealand has said it is open to the Council’s request for an apology.

“Over the last couple of months, we’ve also had significant contact with other indigenous peoples who have been fighting the Doctrine of Discovery”.

“There’s been some really positive soundings coming from the Church”.

“We have been in discussions with people over at the Vatican and we’re hopeful of something, and what’s different this time is the difference in the leadership of the Church.”

Bishop Patrick Dunn, president of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference and Bishop of Auckland, says the Church is consulting over the matter.

Once it has completed its consultation it will release a definitive statement.

“The Catholic Church of Aotearoa New Zealand takes this matter seriously indeed,” he says.

“As a result of representations made by the Māori Council and others, the Catholic Bishops are consulting with appropriate people including relevant experts.

“This process is likely to take some time as it needs careful scrutiny before we can make a considered response.”

Tukaki says despite the doctrine’s widespread use, most non-Māori New Zealanders don’t know much about it.

“It’s like understanding the whakapapa, you’ve got to go right back to the beginning where things began… in order to understand where you need to go.”

One of the cases it was notably used was in the Wi Parata vs The Bishop of Wellington case of 1877. In this case, the Treaty of Waitangi was declared “a simple nullity”.




Additional reading

News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

Tags: , ,