It Is Written

Nunuku's Law

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript



Series Code: IIW

Program Code: IIW016110A

00:14 [John Bradshaw] This is It Is Written.
00:16 I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me.
00:20 It's the first place in the world to see the sun.
00:24 The Chatham Islands--named "Rekohu" or "Misty Sun" by
00:29 the island's original settlers. Population: 600.
00:37 It's a part of New Zealand and it's 840 km or about 500 miles
00:42 east of Christchurch in New Zealand's South Island.
00:45 Today, the Chathams are home to farmers and fishermen and some
00:49 of the biggest crayfish you're every likely to see.
00:53 At 373 square miles the Chatham Islands--
00:58 an archipelago of ten islands-- is a quarter of the size
01:01 of Rhode Island. Life moves slowly here, kind of
01:06 how you might wish the rest of the world would be.
01:09 It takes about a day to get around the main island, but
01:12 there's plenty to see and even more to discover.
01:19 The Chatham Islands are the scene of one of the greatest
01:22 environmental success stories of the last hundred years.
01:26 In 1980 there were five Chatham Island Black Robins
01:31 left in existence. And among them,
01:33 only one breeding female. But through the hard work
01:37 and genius of government conservationists,
01:40 led by a man named Don Merton, the Chatham Islands Black Robin
01:45 was pulled back from the brink of extinction.
01:48 Today there are around 250 Chatham Islands Black Robins
01:52 alive, living out there on Little Mangere
01:56 and South East Islands. But 200 years ago here
02:01 on Chatham Islands, it wasn't the birds
02:03 facing extinction, but the people who lived here.
02:07 The most painful chapter in this island's history shines a light
02:11 on a remarkable stand taken hundreds of years before by
02:15 a leader here, and on the convictions of a people who
02:19 considered a sacred covenant to be of far greater importance
02:23 than even their own physical well-being.
02:29 Maui Solomon is the grandson of Tommy Solomon,
02:32 the last full-blooded Moriori, and he's the chairperson of
02:36 the Hokotehi Moriori Trust. Maui is one of the driving
02:40 forces behind the revival of the Moriori culture.
02:44 [Maui Solomon] Moriori were the first
02:46 to settle these islands 700-800 years ago,
02:51 and Rongomaiwhenua and his younger brother Rongomaitere
02:54 came from eastern Polynesia and came directly to these
02:59 islands. We have two threads
03:01 of settlement, one directly from eastern Polynesia
03:04 and another from Aotearoa. "Rekohu" literally means
03:09 "to gaze at the sun through the mist."
03:12 When Moriori first arrived on these islands, it would have
03:15 been a shock, because they'd come from tropical Polynesia
03:18 to a very temperate climate here on Rekohu.
03:23 But they rapidly adapted to this environment, and they used
03:28 local materials, flax and bull kelp and local trees
03:33 to construct their canoes, and their canoes were in
03:38 a very similar model were shaped to a European
03:41 rowing boat. Over 600 years ago,
03:46 Nunuku-whenua, the last in this line of spiritual leaders,
03:52 had witnessed from the mouth of his cave two warring factions.
03:58 He decreed that the people lay down their arms and that from
04:03 that time forward they live in peace and share the resources
04:06 of the land and the sea. He laid down the curse,
04:11 "The day you disobey, may your bowels rot."
04:14 And from that day forward, there was no further killing.
04:18 That worked for them in these islands for centuries.
04:21 And, of course, that experiment was put to the ultimate test
04:25 when Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutunga invaded
04:30 these islands in November 1835. [John]
04:36 In 1835, everything changed for the peaceful
04:40 Moriori society. To call what happened here
04:44 a tragedy would be to under-represent the magnitude
04:48 of what occurred. This was a catastrophe.
04:52 In fact, it was genocide. And while a catastrophe can
04:57 sometimes bring out the worst in people, it can also bring
05:01 out the best. And this one did both.
05:04 [Maui] Nine hundred
05:06 men, women, and children were brought in two boatloads
05:10 from Wellington in the Lord Rodney,
05:14 an English sailing vessel. When they arrived,
05:16 they were very unwell; it had been a rough journey.
05:20 The people were looked after by Moriori.
05:23 They were fed, sheltered. Not long after that, the newly
05:27 arrived Maori from New Zealand began to "takahi"--
05:30 walk the land-- and killing and enslaving
05:33 Moriori as they went. And it was obvious what
05:36 the intensions were, was to wipe Moriori out.
05:39 [distant rumble] [John]
05:41 To understand the magnitude of what happened here,
05:44 you really need to keep in mind the era in which it occurred.
05:48 In 1835, invasion meant subjugation,
05:51 and it meant slavery. Blood would be shed,
05:55 lives would be lost, it would be ugly.
05:59 The practice of the invaders was to cannibalize
06:03 their enemies. So the invasion of the Moriori
06:07 here at Rekohu would involve unspeakable horrors.
06:12 Now, at that same time the musket wars were taking place
06:15 among the Maori tribes on mainland New Zealand.
06:18 So for the invaders, the thought of coming
06:21 to an island, taking it,
06:23 and killing the inhabitants was nothing out of the ordinary.
06:27 The Moriori held a council at a place called Te Awapatiki
06:31 to discuss what they should do. Some of the young men urged
06:34 that they should fight back. After all, 2,000 Moriori
06:38 and about 1,000 fighting men against 900 invaders
06:42 gave them a pretty good shot at victory,
06:44 even though they weren't a fighting people.
06:47 Not to win? Well, that would mean they'd be
06:50 killed, eaten, enslaved, and wiped out altogether.
06:57 So, 2,000 against 900-- you'd think the outcome
07:00 might be certain. Except it wasn't that simple,
07:05 because of Nunuku's Law. [Maui]
07:10 The ancestors brought with them the traditions and the customs
07:13 from eastern Polynesia, so they were a warrior people,
07:17 a war-like people. They also practiced cannibalism.
07:21 They came to the conclusion that "if we keep killing one another,
07:23 we'll wipe each other out. " They recognized that there's
07:27 always going to be conflict when you have humans.
07:29 So how do we manage that conflict?
07:32 So they evolved their own covenant of peace.
07:35 Combat was ritualized using a wooden staff.
07:38 First blood drawn, honor satisfied,
07:40 fighting was to cease. There shall be no killing.
07:43 Thou shalt not kill. [John]
07:45 About 500 years after Nunuku lived in this very cave,
07:50 the Moriori discovered they had invaders in
07:53 their backyard, and their very existence
07:56 was threatened. So what would they do?
07:59 They could honor Nunuku's Law, which defined them as a people
08:04 and ensured that life was treated as sacred,
08:06 or they could defend themselves and abandon a vital principle
08:11 of their society. Whatever their decision
08:14 would be, it would have enormous consequences.
08:18 So what would they do? We'll find out in just a moment.
08:22 ♪ [soft ethereal music] ♪
08:32 World history has taught us to associate the word
08:35 "surrender" with thoughts of defeat, shame, and loss.
08:39 But what if it were the road to ultimate victory?
08:42 What if surrender meant letting go of your sin
08:44 or your dysfunction in exchange for freedom and integrity?
08:48 What if your Conqueror offered you healing, wholeness,
08:53 and power? When you're used to being
08:55 in charge, surrender to God may be a struggle.
08:58 But I guarantee you surrender to God is the greatest victory
09:01 you'll ever win. If you'd like to understand
09:04 more, request our free booklet, "The War is Over."
09:07 Simply call 800-253-3000 and ask for your free copy
09:12 of "The War is Over." If the line's busy,
09:15 please try again. Or you can write to
09:17 It Is Written at P O Box 6, Chattanooga,
09:20 Tennessee, 37401. We'll mail a free copy to
09:24 your address in North America. It Is Written is a faith-based
09:28 ministry, and your support makes it possible for us
09:31 to share God's good news with the world.
09:34 Your tax-deductible gift can be sent to the address on your
09:36 screen, or through our website at
09:40 Thank you for your continued prayerful support.
09:43 ♪ [deep rumbling tones] ♪
09:49 [John Bradshaw] This is It Is Written.
09:52 I'm John Bradshaw. This is a rugged
09:56 and often windswept place: the Chatham Islands.
10:00 Five hundred miles east of New Zealand
10:02 in the southern Pacific Ocean. Almost 200 years ago,
10:05 this was the scene of an incredible tragedy,
10:08 one that very nearly resulted in the extinction
10:11 of the people who lived here.
10:15 [Maui Solomon] Nine-hundred Maori in total
10:18 arrived and landed at Port Hutt. It was clear to the people
10:24 at that time that the invaders intended to wipe them out,
10:30 to enslave them. We're told that 1,000 men
10:35 met at Te Awapatiki to debate over three or four days what
10:41 the response would be to the invasion by Ngati Tama
10:44 and Ngati Mutunga. So the young men urged
10:47 resistance, but the elders forbade breaking their covenant
10:51 of peace, and said that the covenant wasn't something
10:54 that could be varied to suit the dictates of the time,
10:57 and it would be a complete loss of "mana"
11:00 for them as a people if they violated
11:02 that sacrosanct law. So this covenant of peace was
11:06 so sacred to Moriori they put their spiritual beliefs
11:11 above their physical needs. [John]
11:15 The will of the elders won out. Two chiefs, Torea and Tapata,
11:20 are quoted as having said, "The law of Nunuku is not
11:24 a strategy for survival, to be changed
11:28 as conditions vary. It is a moral imperative."
11:32 Nunuku's Law was a sacred covenant, and it would be
11:35 treated as such. The consequences for the Moriori
11:39 were disastrous. Initially, 226 were murdered.
11:44 Hundreds more were taken as slaves.
11:47 Many of the slaves were killed and eaten.
11:50 Some died from despair, while many others died
11:54 as a result of diseases introduced by the invaders.
11:58 In 30 years or so, the Moriori population fell
12:02 to just 101. Ninety percent of the Moriori
12:08 population had been killed.
12:13 Here in the Moriori marae is a memorial to those
12:17 who perished. At the Auckland Public Library,
12:20 the names of all the Moriori who died during that time
12:23 are recorded. So that while their lives
12:26 were lost, the memory of them was not.
12:30 And on the memorial are carved the names of those who died
12:34 during and following the massacre.
12:40 Now here's a question: Who would choose to lose
12:44 their life rather than to fight trying to defend it?
12:50 What kind of person or people, knowing the seriousness of the
12:55 consequences, would consider a law so important, so utterly
13:00 inviolable, that they would choose to honor that law
13:05 rather than preserve their own life or, essentially,
13:10 their entire culture? Is a law ever so important that
13:16 a person should die rather than violate that law?
13:20 When we go to the Bible we find again and again references to
13:24 people who chose to put a greater cause above
13:27 their own welfare, and even ahead of their own lives.
13:31 Let's look in Revelation 12. It's a discussion of God's
13:34 church, God's people down through the ages from
13:38 the time of the birth of Jesus. The church is depicted as a
13:42 woman--a figure God often uses in the Bible to
13:45 represent the church or His people.
13:48 She delivers a child-- that's Jesus.
13:51 Then the devil is represented as a red dragon.
13:54 He deceives a third of the angels in heaven
13:58 and goes on the attack against Jesus.
14:01 Jesus' ascension to heaven is mentioned, and then a time
14:04 of difficulty for the church. For 1,260 years--now, remember,
14:08 a day represents a year in Bible prophecy--
14:11 for 1,260 years, the church is in the wilderness.
14:16 But God's people are ultimately triumphant, and there's
14:19 a description of at least some of God's people
14:21 in Revelation 12:11. It says, "And they overcame him
14:26 by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.
14:30 And they loved not their lives unto the death."
14:34 "They loved not their lives to the death."
14:40 Is a cause ever so great that a person should be willing
14:44 to lay down his or her life for that cause?
14:49 Here on the Chatham Islands, back in the 1830s, the answer
14:53 given to that question was 'yes.'
14:58 Throughout history there have been accounts of people who've
15:01 given their lives for others. During World War II,
15:05 a U.S. Army transport ship, the Dorchester,
15:08 was carrying hundreds of American troops to Europe.
15:12 This was a dangerous business. And while the ship was traveling
15:15 to Greenland, it was torpedoed and sunk by a German warship.
15:20 In the chaos, there weren't enough lifejackets to go around.
15:25 But the four chaplains on the ship--a Catholic,
15:28 two Protestants, and a Jew-- encouraged the troops,
15:32 helped them off the ship, and then gave their lifejackets
15:38 to the soldiers. They went down with the ship
15:42 into the frigid water singing and praying together,
15:47 and they died. A 43-year-old Gulf War veteran
15:53 retired from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and now he had
15:56 the kind of time he always wanted to have for his wife
15:59 and their 5-year-old boy. He'd been in the Gulf War;
16:03 he'd been involved in the invasion of Afghanistan.
16:06 But now, with the rest of his life stretching before him,
16:09 he decided that he'd take care of some projects he'd been
16:11 wanting to get to for some time. And one of them was to cut down
16:14 a tree in their backyard. He and his 5-year-old son went
16:18 out in the backyard, and they would clear that tree.
16:21 As the tree was falling to the ground, the 5-year-old boy
16:26 walked out into the path of the falling tree.
16:29 Now, this solider, this retired soldier, knew what to do.
16:32 He'd been awarded the Soldier's Medal
16:34 for bravery for rescuing soldiers from a helicopter crash
16:38 in Haiti, and he would save the life of his son as well.
16:42 He rushed into the path of the falling tree and pushed his son
16:45 to safety. But tragically, the tree fell
16:49 on him. They airlifted him to Vanderbilt
16:51 University Medical Center, but he was dead by the time
16:55 he arrived at the hospital. That little boy would grow up
17:00 with only hazy memories of his father.
17:04 But there'd be one thing he'd always know about his dad:
17:07 he'd know forever that his father loved him enough
17:11 to die so that he would live. ♪ [music] ♪
17:22 Now, chaplains dying for men under their spiritual care and
17:26 on their side during a war, that's probably not altogether
17:30 surprising. A father dying for his son
17:33 is incredible, it's heroic, but that's something
17:37 we can understand. Now, the Moriori of
17:39 New Zealand's Chatham Islands died for an ideal.
17:42 And in Revelation 12, people died for someone
17:45 that they had never seen. What would drive a person
17:48 to do that? And what would you do
17:51 if you ever found yourself in a similar situation?
17:55 I'll be back with more in just a moment.
18:01 [Announcer] "Every Word" is a one-minute
18:04 Bible-based daily devotional presented by
18:06 Pastor John Bradshaw and designed especially
18:08 for busy people like you. Look for "Every Word"
18:12 on selected networks, or watch it online every day
18:14 on our website,
18:19 ♪ [upbeat music] ♪
18:24 [John Bradshaw] Some verses of the Bible
18:26 cause you to really stop and reflect.
18:28 If you were honest with yourself,
18:30 what would you say is the driving force of your life?
18:34 What is the thing that you're most passionate about?
18:36 Paul wrote in Philippians 2:21, "For all seek their own,
18:40 not the things which are Jesus Christ's."
18:42 Of course, you can't exist in this world without being
18:44 involved in certain things. You wouldn't be
18:46 a very interesting person if you didn't have interests
18:48 and pursuits and so on. But what is it that drives you?
18:52 What's really the most important thing to you?
18:55 Paul wrote that the problem people have--and interestingly,
18:58 he said all people-- is that they put God's interests
19:01 behind their own. Could it be that many people
19:05 need to adjust their priorities? If you're one of those people,
19:08 ask God to help you to put His things first.
19:11 I'm John Bradshaw for It Is Written.
19:14 Let's live today by every word.
19:16 ♪ [music] ♪
19:26 What if surrender meant letting go of your sin or
19:29 your dysfunction in exchange for freedom and integrity?
19:33 If you'd like to understand more, request our free
19:35 booklet, "The War is Over." Simply call 800-253-3000
19:40 and ask for your free copy of "The War is Over."
19:44 If the line's busy, please try again.
19:46 Or you can write to It Is Written at
19:48 P O Box 6, Chattanooga, Tenneessee, 37401.
19:53 We'll mail a free copy to your address in North America.
19:56 It Is Written is a faith-based ministry, and your support
20:00 makes it possible for us to share God's good news
20:03 with the world. Your tax-deductible gift can be
20:06 sent to the address on your screen, or through our website
20:09 at Thank you for your continued
20:12 prayerful support. Again, our toll-free number is
20:15 800-253-3000, and our web address is
20:24 ♪ [ominous music] ♪ [John Bradshaw]
20:33 In 1835, a society was attacked without provocation.
20:38 Many were brutally murdered, and of those, many were cannibalized
20:42 and the survivors were enslaved. Almost 200 years later,
20:48 that society no longer exists. Remnants of that civilization
20:53 can still be seen. Centuries-old carvings
20:57 made by the Moriori are still visible on the trunks of trees,
21:02 ancient living artifacts from another era.
21:07 ♪ [melancholy piano music] ♪ [Maui Solomon]
21:13 I don't judge the ancestors for what they did
21:17 at the time they did it. That was the right thing
21:19 for them to have done, because that was their custom,
21:22 that was their tradition. And by holding fast to those
21:26 traditions, they have passed on to this present generation
21:30 of Moriori a legacy of peace, of hope.
21:34 Making that sacrifice, they've left a lesson for humanity.
21:38 They're not forgotten. Their legacy of peace and hope
21:42 lives on.
21:50 ♪ [chimes] ♪ [John]
21:53 Geographically, Chatham Island is a stunning place
21:58 filled with incredible features, including these basalt
22:01 columns reminiscent of the Giant's Causeway in Ireland.
22:06 It was here in this stunning place that a peaceful society
22:12 met a violent end, because it chose to adhere to principles
22:16 that put values even above life itself.
22:21 For the Moriori, it was more important to do
22:24 the right thing than to dominate or to conquer another people.
22:30 The Moriori would choose the right path and make
22:33 a bold stand for peace. Like God's people
22:37 in Revelation 12:11, they loved not their lives unto the death.
22:45 What motivates a person to live by that creedo?
22:50 A famous Revolutionary War figure paid for his dedication
22:53 to his country with his life, and is quoted as having said,
22:57 "My one regret is that I only had one life to give
23:01 for my country." Now, while that quote
23:04 is disputed by some, that's patriotism.
23:09 The night before he died, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
23:12 was speaking at Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee,
23:15 on behalf of striking sanitation workers.
23:18 There had been threats made against his life; in fact,
23:20 the pilot of the plane that carried Dr. King and others
23:24 to Memphis, Tennessee, told the passengers on board that
23:27 plane that the plane had been guarded the night before.
23:31 During that speech, Dr. King said, "I don't know
23:35 what will happen with me now. We've got some difficult days
23:38 ahead. But it doesn't matter with me
23:41 now because I've been to the mountaintop...
23:44 I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up
23:47 to the mountain, and I've looked over,
23:50 and I've seen the Promised Land. I'm not fearing any man now.
23:56 Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."
24:02 The next day, outside room 306 of the Lorraine Motel,
24:07 the unthinkable happened. Now, what is it that drives
24:12 a man to go to those lengths, to consider a cause to be
24:15 more important even than his own well-being,
24:18 even than his own life? Well, for Dr. King,
24:22 it was justice; it was human rights;
24:25 it was the plight of his people. But let's consider Jesus
24:30 of Nazareth. The Bible says of Jesus,
24:33 "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
24:37 Romans 5:8. And why?
24:40 John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave
24:46 His only begotten Son."
24:49 Love, the great motivator. Now, there's something important
24:54 to consider here. God had a law.
24:57 Human beings had broken that law.
25:00 The only way for human beings to be reconciled to God
25:04 was through the death of His Son, Jesus,
25:07 although if God had simply set aside His law, the death
25:13 of Jesus wouldn't be necessary. That would have been the easy
25:16 way out for God, a way out of a terrible situation
25:20 that no parent wants to endure. But just as the Moriori
25:24 considered their law too sacred to be set aside,
25:28 God considered His law to be too important
25:31 to set aside also. And as a consequence,
25:35 Jesus willingly went to the cross for you and me,
25:40 because God so loved the world. John 15:13 says, "Greater love
25:47 hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life
25:51 for his friends." I've heard people say they don't
25:55 believe they have the faith necessary to be a martyr.
25:59 Well, there are people in this world paying the ultimate price
26:02 for their faith in God, and the Bible does say that
26:05 there are challenging times ahead for planet earth.
26:08 But the truth is, God's not asking most of us
26:11 to die for Him. Instead, He's asking us
26:16 to live for Him. And that involves death--dying
26:20 to one's own self-interest, dying to one's own self-will.
26:25 In holding to Nunuku's Law, the Moriori gave more to
26:29 the world in their destruction than many civilizations give
26:31 to the world in their existence. An example of what it means to
26:35 be truly committed to a worthy, to a noble cause.
26:39 An example of what it means to consider something so important
26:43 that it's more important than life itself.
26:46 That's how committed Jesus was to you, so committed
26:49 that He gave His life so that you might live.
26:54 What are you planning to do with that gift Jesus died
26:56 to give you? Let's pray.
27:00 Father in heaven, thank You today for Jesus,
27:03 Your gift to the world. Salvation was purchased
27:06 at an infinite cost to Yourself. When you could have spared
27:09 the life of Jesus, Your Son, You didn't.
27:12 When Jesus could have walked away from the cross,
27:15 He didn't. Today as You offer that gift
27:18 to the world, I pray for those hearing me right now.
27:20 In light of all You've done, grant great grace to those
27:24 who need to respond to Your mercy and goodness.
27:26 Grant that they would do so now. Will you receive Jesus as your
27:30 Lord and Savior, friend? Will you accept eternal life
27:33 right now? Lord, thank You for the
27:36 certainty of a life of meaning, an eternal life with You.
27:40 We accept it in Jesus' name. Amen.
27:44 Thanks for joining me. I look forward to seeing you
27:46 again next time. Until then, remember:
27:50 "It is written, 'Man shall not live
27:52 by bread alone but by every word that proceeds
27:57 from the mouth of God.'" ♪ [majestic music] ♪


Revised 2019-03-07