by Nathan Shaw

In the history of any nation there are key milestones. Recently God opened my eyes to some key milestones in the history of New Zealand. The milestones are all approximately 50 years apart. Each 50 year period defines a significant work of the Spirit in the nation.

The Meeting

In 1766 the Māori prophet, Toiroa prophesied about the arrival of the Europeans: “The name of their God will be Tama-i-rorokutia (Son-who-was-killed), a good God, however the people will still be oppressed.” Toiroa was a seer. Before Europeans even arrived He described the way they dressed and their means of travel. In 1769 the English explorer, Captain James Cook, arrived on his ship, HMS Endeavour. God’s Spirit moved on the prophet Toiroa to prepare Māori for the arrival of Europeans. God’s Spirit ignited desire within Cook’s heart to explore far distant lands.

The Māori Conversion and a Betrayed Covenant

Samuel Marsden preached the first Christian message to Māori on December 25th 1814. Samuel Marsden was part of the Church Missionary Society (CMS). Although several CMS bases were set up in New Zealand, it wasn’t until the arrival of Henry Williams in 1823 that things started to progress. Williams changed the focus of the mission. Previously the focus had been on training Māori to operate in the context of European civilization. Instead, Williams focused on teaching the life of Christ to Māori in their own language. The New Testament was fully translated by 1837 and the Old Testament by 1857. From 1830-1850 there was a phenomenal and transformational move of God’s Spirit throughout the Māori population. By 1852 ninety to ninety five percent of Māori were Christian.

In 1840 God’s Spirit breathed through the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty was a covenant which protected the distinctiveness of the two cultures but combined their destinies. Unfortunately the Treaty was not honoured by successive governments and Māori land was taken from them unjustly. The New Zealand wars ensued. In European mindset loss of land is loss of an asset. In Māori mindset loss of land is loss of identity. For Māori their destiny is connected to the land.

Nonviolent Resistance

After the intensity of the New Zealand wars a new form of resistance emerged through the influence of Māori chiefs Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi. Te Whiti and Tohu had been trained by both Māori elders and Christian missionaries. They had been involved in the New Zealand wars but then had a change of heart. In about 1866 they founded the village Parihaka. Through their wise leadership Parihaka became productive and prosperous. In particular Parihaka became known for its nonviolent resistance to the confiscation of Māori land by the New Zealand government. Many Māori who were effected by land confiscations became part of the village. The village grew to over 2000 people. More than just chiefs, Te Whiti and Tohu were recognized as prophets and spiritual leaders.

In 1878 the government started surveying and selling the land around Parihaka. Te Whiti and Tohu responded by ploughing the land and setting up fences across road ways. 400 Māori were jailed without trial. Settlers feared the Māori resistance would lead to more armed conflict. On November 5th 1881, 1600 government troops entered the village where they were met with no resistance. Te Whiti and Tohu were arrested and jailed without trial. The approximately 1600 outsiders were expelled. Buildings were looted and destroyed. Crops and livestock were also systematically destroyed. Te Whiti and Tohu were released in 1883. They returned to the village and continued to lead peaceful protests.

Te Whiti and Tohu, inspired by the Spirit, led Māori in a renewed hope and a new way. The peaceful resistance at Parihaka was a powerful act of intercession that would ultimately lead to a brighter future.

Healing: A Sign From Heaven

In 1918 God encountered T. W. Rātana in a dramatic way. Following this encounter Rātana had the greatest faith healing ministry in New Zealand’s history. Multitudes of people were healed. Even to this day there is a building at Rātana Pā with all of the walking sticks, wheelchairs, crutches and glasses that were no longer needed. In 1920 God encounter Rātana again. This time He told Rātana to visit every Maori settlement that would invite him. Newspapers recorded the healings as Rātana travelled from place to place. John Rawson Elder summarized the impact in his book The History of the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand:

“Since the early spread of the gospel in New Zealand there has been no other spiritual awakening of Māoridom to compare with this. Many Māoris whose religion had been purely formal were seized with intense religious conviction, and everywhere Māoris could be found earnestly studying the Word of God. Hundreds of Māori men who had been hopeless slaves to alcohol were suddenly transformed and liberated from their bondage. The moral stimulus of those early days of the Rātana movement was more wonderful than even some of the marvellous physical healing which undoubtedly took place.”

As Rātana travelled throughout Māori communities he came face to face with a sickness in the Māori people that he called land sickness. Interestingly, an 1881 prophecy given at Waitangi stated, “There is a child coming who will bear in his right hand the Holy Bible, and in his left hand the Treaty of Waitangi, listen to him.” There were two aspects to Rātana’s mandate: spiritual (Ture Wairua) and political (Ture Tangata). The aim of the political movement was to have the Treaty of Waitangi acknowledged and upheld. Through the Rātana political movement this indeed began to happen. Rātana particularly emphasized the priority of the spiritual over the political, “First unite under Ihoa (Jehovah), then turn your attention to the treaty of Waitangi.”

Rātana was often invited to remove powerful ancient curses over Māori and the land. The results were dramatic. Rātana’s profound healing ministry was a sign from God that He wanted to heal much more than just physical bodies.

The Sound of Worship in the Nations

David and Dale Garratt released their first worship album in 1968. Their ministry was called Scripture in Song. The concept was simple: take Scripture and make it singable. The music style was contemporary and brought a new freedom to worship. Scripture in Song helped change Christian worship around the world. It was like a drop of water that sent out waves far and wide. At the time it was controversial. After writing many anointed songs and producing anointed albums, David and Dale went on to “help indigenous cultures understand and express Christian doctrine in their own musical forms” (Wikipedia). Scripture in Song’s legacy of freedom and worship has impacted many diverse cultures around the world.

New Zealand is a prophetic nation with a unique message and a unique sound. But New Zealand also has an authority to call forth the unique messages and sounds within other nations and people groups. Every culture has a unique sound. Every culture is important and significant. Every culture will be part of the worship that surrounds the throne of God.

Behold A New Era

Approximately every 50 years Holy Spirit has initiated something new and significant in the unfolding story of New Zealand. It is now 250 years since Captain James Cook first visited New Zealand. We are at the beginning of a new 50 year cycle. There have been five past cycles. In this new cycle aspects of all the previous ones will come together in significant ways. Sometimes the way Holy Spirit moves is discernable by many. Other times it is discernable by only a few. When we understand the unfolding story of the past we are more likely to discern that which Holy Spirit is doing today.

Prophets, explorers, missionaries, activists, healers and worshippers. Two cultures. A unique sound. A beautiful covenant. These are all part of the story so far. Even more significantly, each of these prophesy the future. The ways of God revealed in the past, prophesy the purposes of God for the future. God is fashioning New Zealand for purposes more glorious than we yet realize. It’s time to praise God for all that He has done in the past, for all that He is doing in the present, and for all that He will do in the future. Some of the key players in this unfolding story were unlikely candidates for the roles they played. That’s also part of the prophesy. God uses whomever He desires. Right now God is moving on a new generation. They will embrace the mysteries of the past, the adventures of the present, and the full glory of God’s incredible purposes for New Zealand and the nations.



Nathan Shaw helps bring individuals and churches into dynamic encounters with God's indescribable love. Nathan's passion is to equip churches so that they can move in the Spirit, access heavenly realms, encounter God's heart and release His Kingdom on the earth. 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 and he is the senior pastor at Fire and Destiny Centre, Dunedin and Celebration Church, Mosgiel
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