National | Declaration of Independence

"The Treaty of Waitangi is a covenant for non-Māori," Lillian Murray

Every year Karuwhā Trust takes a group of people up to Waitangi to educate and engage them with one of the biggest days in New Zealand's history.

160 people from across the country are a part of the group that will be participating in this year's festivities.

The initiative is allowing people to connect with New Zealand history.

"The Treaty of Waitangi is a covenant for non-Māori to enter by law into New Zealand so the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty are both important," volunteer Lillian Murray says.

"We need to learn about them both because they are both what give us Pākeha a place here."

The 'I Ngā Wā o Mua, Seeking a Lens of Historicity' journey is also teaching non-Māori how they came to be on this land.

"Maybe it is to plant the thought that we non-Māori are visitors here. So what do visitors do, maybe it's to learn? Therefore, learning how to help out as visitors could help us help the people of the land," she says.

Many of the group use it as a tool to better understand the Treaty of Waitangi.

David Moko (Te Arawa) says, "How does this work, how hasn't it worked and what do we need to do to actually make a significant difference?"

They also learn what the significance of the Treaty is for both Māori and non-Māori.

"The importance of relationships has really been a significant part of understanding the Tiriti o Waitangi," Moko says.

"Pākehā will not be able to understand the Māori world if they are ignorant to the Treaty and what comes with the Treaty.

"That's a good thing for Pākehā to connect with the story by being located at the treaty grounds and being a part of that whole event that goes on for those significant days," he says.

While there are a small number of Māori participants in the initiative, Moko says it is one that shines a whole other light for non-Māori.

"I don't think Māori generally have the same questions that Pākehā would have. I think generally Māori have accepted the Treaty of Waitangi as what it is, the good side perhaps of history and also the bad side of what has happened.

"So I don't think Māori have to come to an understanding of the Treaty as perhaps Pākehā do," he says.

The 160 strong delegation will journey to the Bay of Islands on February 2.