Māori Council wants Pope to apologise for colonisation of New Zealand

The Māori Council has told the Pope to issue an apology to Māori for the colonisation of New Zealand.

Executive director Matthew Tukaki has written to Pope Francis, calling for "an accounting of the trauma" the Vatican has caused and a repudiation of the doctrine of discovery.

The doctrine of discovery provided the legal and political justification for European monarchs to conquer and claim lands inhabited by indigenous peoples. It was supported by a number of papal bulls (Catholic laws) issued by the Vatican in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Tukaki says this "fueled white supremacy" and supported the "dehumanisation, dispossession, murder, and forced assimilation" of those indigenous peoples.

"It is a shameful blight not only on our history here in New Zealand but right across the first nations world where an old, archaic and quite frankly document is not repudiated by the Vatican," Tukaki says.

"They must be held to account for the sins of their ancestors in what has been an intergenerational trauma visited on many of our indigenous brothers and sisters over many centuries."

Tukaki says he has written to Pope Francis asking for a meeting to discuss the apology.

"What we are seeking is pretty clear - a repudiation of the doctrine and an apology from the Vatican, from the Pope. Sorry is an easy enough word to say but for us that will have immense meaning," Tukaki says.

"Today the New Zealand Māori Council joins that fight alongside our indigenous and first nations brothers and sisters for an accounting of the Vatican."

He has set up a petition calling for the change.