If we want to build a socially cohesive society we must invest in the idea of Aotearoa New Zealand as a nation born on the promise of mutual prosperity.
We trace the whakapapa of our nation back to the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi on February 6, 1840.
The moral power of Te Tiriti o Waitangi that still echoes across time comes from its promise of a new kind of nation where two people would prosper alongside each other.
At ANZ New Zealand we trace our corporate whakapapa back to those same days of imagination and optimism.
John Smith, the head of the Union Bank in Sydney, which would change its name to ANZ in the 20th century, reported the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi enthusiastically to his superiors in London. Our first bank manager had high hopes for the prospects of Pākehā-Māori relations and our potential to do business together in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Smith promised his leaders that he would “...not lose any time in forming an establishment there…”. True to his word he established New Zealand’s first bank that same year at Pito-One (Petone).
Our origin stories as a nation, and as a bank, come from a rarefied moment in our history which we look upon as a nation to guide us as we create our future. We believe that the desire to build a better society through a partnership between two peoples was genuine in 1840.
But our history shows that utopian vision of a mutually prosperous future was lost across the years since 1840. Those years saw the good intentions swamped by a one-sided story which saw Pākehā prosper and Māori alienated from their whenua, taonga, economic assets and opportunities.
Today we all live with the social consequences of our unequal history. This inequality is persistent in our basic living standards, income levels, workforce participation, welfare dependency, educational achievement, physical and mental health, life expectancy and incarceration rates.