Monday, July 27, 2015

My Claim to Royalty

Last week I learned something interesting about myself. It turns out that my whanau on my mum’s side, is descended from royalty. And some serious royalty. I have a royal whakapapa (genealogy).

It all goes back forty generations to a certain Rollo (Hrólfr, Rou(f)). While his origins are fiercely disputed between Norwegian and Danish historians, he was clearly a Norse Viking, and the first duke of Normandy (c. 846–932).

In the family line he is followed by five dukes of Normandy, William I (Longsword), Richard I, II, III, and Robert I. These reigned Normandy in what is now Northern France from 911 to 1066 when the Duke of Normandy, William, conquered England—the Battle of Hastings. I am thus a descendant of William the Conqueror, otherwise known as “William the Bastard”—not because he was a nasty piece of work, although I am sure he was, but because he was illegitimate. He reigned until 100.

After him in my family line comes Henry I also known as Henry Beaulerc (reigned 1100–1135), Empress Matilda (also Maude) (1102–1167), King Henry II (1154–1189), King John (1166–1216), King Henry III (1216–1272), King Edward I (Edward Longshanks, the Hammer of the Scots) (1272–1307), and King Edward II (1307–1327). He was forced by his son Edward III to relinquish the throne and he reigned (1327–1377) who declared himself king of France and started the One Hundred Years’ War—which of course did not last hundred years, but went from 1337–1453.

After this my family tree moves away from direct line to the English throne but includes princes, earls, countesses, lady’s, sirs, and a few revs.[1] So 24 generations ago, my direct ancestors were kings and queens of England, and 19 to royal blood. Mind you when I put it that way, the royal blood is pretty diluted! Likely half of England can claim the same in one way or another.

Anywhen, I was somewhat shocked when I heard this, having no idea that my forebears were English kings. I have to admit I have mixed feelings. After all, rulers like this were marked by all the usual things that go with ancient royalty—military might, abuse of power, political intrigue, oppression, and so on.

I shared my whakapapa with a Maori friend at Laidlaw. He was taken aback too, and then wondered if it gave license to give me a hiding—colonialism and all that. He told me his whakapapa was full of murderers and worse. I said, “Well we have that in common then.”

I also pondered returning to England to take back what is arguably (very arguably) rightfully mine—England. Or at least, lay claim to some land. Just as William conquered England, it could happen again.

But then I also thought of Jesus’ whakapapa in Matt 1:1–18. His whakapapa is full of kings from David to Jechoniah, and followed by legitimate heirs like Zerubbabel. In fact, he can lay claim to royal blood only 14 generations before he turned up. I then remembered that his whakapapa also has a few interesting characters like the fake prostitute Tamar and the prostitute Rahab. Goodness knows who else is in mine!

Then I thought about how Jesus related to the throne that was (arguably) deservedly his. He didn’t claim it by military power, as indeed everyone expected a Messiah would someday do. Rather, he did so by relentless love, compassion, mercy, non-violence, healing, feeding, and more. Now that is what a king should do.

So, I suppose I won’t gather an army to take England. I am now a bit past it. That would require a good deal of money and forces. No. There’s enough of that sort of thing going on in the Middle East and Africa at present.

Anyway, I am royalty anyway. Having yielded my allegiance to Jesus, Son of David, Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah of Israel, and Lord of the Cosmos, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Firstborn over all creation, Head of the Church, Emperor of the Universe and all Universes, I am by adoption a son of the king of the universe. I am thus a prince. This is achieved not by physical descent (John 1:13), but by God inviting me to be his heir (along with all humanity), my bending the knee in allegiance, and then he fusing me into his being through his Spirit downloaded into my being. So, I am royalty and I don’t need all that worldly kingship stuff. After all, it is mostly associated with the most despicable of injustice and oppression. Indeed, my whakapapa would give a lot of people good reason to come hunt me out and sort me out! 

So, I will content myself with being a son of God with a glorious inheritance in store. Now, back to the work of the kingdom . . .




[1] To be specific: After Edward III—Prince Lionel of Antwerp (1388–1368) (he tried to take over Ireland, woops!), Philippa Plantaganet 5th Countess of Ulster (1355–1382) (should have been Queen, usurped by Henry precipitated by the War of the Roses), Elizabeth Mortimer (1371-1417), Henry Percy 1st Earl of Northumberland (also Henry Hotspur) (1364–1403)—a very famous knight, Henry Percy 2nd Earl of Northumberland (1393–1455), Lady Margaret Percy (1477–?), Sir William Gascoigne (the “younger”), Sir William Gascoigne, William Gascoigne, Margaret Gascoigne, Margaret Wentworth (d. 1614), Anne Darcy/Henry Savile, William Savile, William Savile/Mary West, Mary Savile/William Maude, Mary Maude/Darcy Preston, Rosamond Preston/Rev George Haggitt (1730–1798), Rev D’Arcy (Percy) Haggitt (1796–1835), D’Arcy Haggitt (1763–1850)/Mary Martin (1782/83–1858), D’Arcy Haggitt (1805–1869)/Mary Ann Walters, D’Arcy Haggitt (1842–1927), Cecil Strange Haggitt (1871–1933), Gordon Gunion Haggitt, Nolarae Haggitt (my mum), moi and my sisters Nina and Jill.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What is a Kiwi?

What is a Kiwi? Well, according to the freedictionary.com it is “Any of several flightless birds of the genus Apteryx native to New Zealand, having vestigial wings and a long slender bill. Also called apteryx.” This led me to look up vestigial wings, which are apparently things on the body that have lost most or all of their ancestral function; in the case of the Kiwi, the ability to fly.

The dictionary also lists a Kiwifruit as a Kiwi. It is interesting in the light of this blog post that originally the Kiwifruit was Chinese. It originated from north, central, and eastern China and was commonly called the Chinese Gooseberry. It spread to NZ from China in the early 20th century. So, the Kiwifruit which has become a quintessential kiwi icon is an immigrant from China. Interesting.

The dictionary gives another meaning, and this is the meaning that interests me: a Kiwi is “a New Zealander.” Now in popular NZ culture, the term “Kiwi” is not quite used as the Dictionary suggests. Usually, it is used of a “European” Kiwi, i.e. someone who has identified as a New Zealander from European descent. It helps to have a Kiwi accent to be absolutely recognised in this camp. Someone with an English accent may still be called a Pom, or someone with an Australian accent an Aussie, etc. But, generally speaking, the epithet is applied to New Zealanders who speaks with a NZ accent, or more broadly, a European Kiwi. Often it is not used of Polynesian New Zealanders, and even less so of Asian New Zealanders—especially those with an Asian accent.

I often hear Christians use this language as well. Indeed, I find myself using it at times. In recent times, however, I have made a resolution to do my darndest to stop using it as I have and is popular. The reason is that doing so perpetuates an implicit racism that pervades our society (church included). That is, a Kiwi is implicitly understood to be a white New Zealander with a NZ accent. This inadvertently creates an in and out mentality. Us Kiwis of European descent tend to see people who are different from the dominant white majority, as different, and as invading out turf. They are changing our culture. By using Kiwi of white NZers we perpetuate this myth.

And it is a myth! Maori were the first NZers, the first Kiwis, and they are Polynesians. So, if anyone is a Kiwi, a Maori is. They are Tangata Whenua; a Maori is a Kiwi of Kiwis (cf. Phil 3:5). In 2013, 15% of Kiwis identified as Maori. If there is a degree of kiwi scale, they are most Kiwi Kiwis you can find.

The second “lot” of Kiwis are people like my family which came to NZ in the great European migration of the 1800s up to the present. Within a generation or two we took on a NZ accent, and we are recognised as Kiwis. And we are. According to the 2013 census, 74% of Kiwis identified with at least one European ethnicity.

Then there has been the great Pacific migration especially in the mid-late 1900s. 7% of Kiwis identify with at least one Pacifica people group.

There has also been the more recent wave of Asian immigrants to NZ. 12% of Kiwis identify with at least one Asian identity. We cannot also forget that there are many Kiwis now from the Middle East, Latin and South America, North America, and other African countries. These are as Kiwi as my, a sixth generation NZer on both sides of my whanau. A quarter of NZers then are Kiwis but are not European. Many have a different accent, different skin colour, different facial features, but they are Kiwi as you and I.

It is time to jettison the whole “a Kiwi is a European thing” or “a Kiwi is a white person with a NZ accent,” and adjust our perspective and language. We all came off a waka from somewhere, whether it be this generation or an earlier one. If someone has made NZ their home, they are a Kiwi. A Kiwi is no longer necessarily white, and their accents vary (although by the second generation they usually have a common accent).

I find myself having interesting conversations with immigrants. As you do, the question of origins comes up. They might say something like, I came here from South Korea about 15 years ago. Warmly, I will say something like, “So you are a Kiwi then.” They will respond, something like, “oh no, I am a Korean,” or look at me quizzically.

If appropriate, I will push them a bit. “Oh, are you planning to go back and live there.”

They almost always say, “No, I am staying here.”

Often they will express their love for NZ. I will say to them, “so you are a Kiwi then, a Korean Kiwi, you know you can be both .”

Then I will get into a conversation about all this. I find generally that this is received very favourably. Maybe it helps them. I am not sure, but I find it helps me. I am learning that my euro-centric understanding of kiwiism is breaking down as I determine to treat anyone who calls NZ home a Kiwi.

I think it is essential in the church that we do this. We need to recognise that NZ is shifting, especially Auckland. Take a look at the NZ sports teams; they are full of wonderfully gifted Kiwis who have settled in NZ—South African Kiwis like Irene van Dyk, Korean Kiwis like Lydia Ko and Danny Lee, Polynesian Kiwis like Julian Savea or Kevin Mealamu, and more. These people are as Kiwi as you and I. When they begin to fill up our churches, as they are now doing especially in Auckland (PRAISE GOD!), this is not some kind of challenge to “our culture.” Rather it is exciting and thrilling! They just got here a little after us. After all, our forebears ALL came from somewhere else.

I love the way NZ is changing. It is renewing us. I delight in the shift in the church. Churches like my own are now a glorious mix of Kiwis from all over the world. Our community nights are awesome, and food is fantastic. Our discipleship is deepening. We are getting to understand the wonderful truth that in Christ Jesus, there is neither Jew nor Greek, European nor Asian, African nor Maori, Chinese or Iranian. We get a weekly vision of Rev 7:9–12.

So in sum, I suggest we all rethink how we use the term “kiwi.” Of course we don’t need to collapse our vibrant cultures into one bland Kiwi thing. I like the idea of people having the choice of saying, I am a Korean Kiwi for example, or retaining their Korean identity. However, if say a Chinese person who has settled here defines themselves as “a Kiwi,” I say good on them and “yeah baby yeah.”

The truth is that there are many species of kiwi, all human, all making this wonderful nation home—just as all kiwis from the apteryx family are kiwis. Just as the Chinese Gooseberry has become the Kiwifruit through immigration, so indeed there are many and from this global village becoming Kiwi. Let us embrace them. There are a lot of implicit things in our language and attitude that need to change. I think this is one of them.