Opinion: Hirini Kaa

HK profileReverend Hirini Kaa (Ngati Porou, Rongowhakaata, Ngati Kahungunu) shares his thoughts about where Te Pihopatanga o Aoteaora needs to go.

There are some really big things happening in our society at the moment that need our attention. And so of course once again it is time for Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa (the Maori Anglican Church) to go into our biennial navel-gazing exercise, Te Runanganui, where we obsess about our internal politics and who has what and who doesn’t have what, and come away none the wiser.

On the ground we have beautiful people doing some amazing works. Our Minita-a-Iwi work unpaid at the frontline, dealing with the grief and pain and joy of our people and nurturing our taha Wairua which is an essential complement of life. But they are unpaid, under resourced and under supported.

Here are my priorities for Te Pihopatanga in no particular order. Share yours in the comments.

Rediscover our Prophetic Voice

We need to be the ones standing up for justice and facing down powers and principalities that would exploit our people and our planet. From the foundation of this nation Mihinare have been agents for justice – we must be so again.

This will be particularly important as we head into the future where the state will withdraw and whanau will be forced to fend for themselves; where Iwi will have to deal with internal inequalities; and where systemic poverty will continue to crush the life from our people.

Be Led by Vision, Not Money

As a Haahi we are far richer in terms of money now than we have ever been in our history. We receive millions of dollars every year for education alone, and yet we are becoming less relevant every year. Abundance of money cannot compensate for a lack of vision.

And that vision needs to be shaped scripture, by tikanga, by reason and by experience. We need to understand where we have come from, where we are, and where we need to go, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

Be Honest about where we are in relation to our people

According to the last census results we are still the biggest denomination amongst Maori, with over 70000 adherents. However only a tiny, tiny proportion of our whanau attend Sunday Karakia on a regular basis. They also maintain our Whare Karakia, serve on committees, and provide for the community. The latest census results come out next year. We need to have a good look at the, and at ourselves, and make some decisions informed by data, not just by nostalgia.

Catch Up with the Maori Renaissance

Our people have experienced rapid cultural change in the past 30 years and yet we as a Haahi remain locked into our old Victorian methodologies. We need to be more responsive to the growth of Iwi and the burgeoning of te reo me ona tikanga amongst our young people. We also have to stop taking for granted our place in te Ao Maori, and start to argue for our existence. What is our message, and why do our people still need it? If we don’t do that, we may well disappear.

Enough with the Male Clerical Dominance

Priests and Bishops have a role to play alongside everyone else in the Haahi, not on top of them. There are a generation of amazingly capable young lay men and women out there we need to bring in to our decision making structures to make us relevant and effective. Enough with the hierarchical obsession – Jesus came to serve, not to be served! And please God, give us a woman Bishop.

Matauranga Mihinare

We need to equip our people for ministry amongst our own communities, not for ministry to the Pakeha middle class – the Anglican default model. That means an ongoing educational process not focused on qualifications (that are mostly unemployable anyway) but in equipping us for Maori mission – scripture, justice, leadership, tikanga.

Our Whare Wananga has closed its doors and we need to learn lessons from that, but not retreat into ineffective little silos.

And alongside equipping for the flax roots we also need to identify key strategic areas for research that will underpin this learning. How can we meet our educational needs if we are reliant on Western liberal or conservative theology that doesn’t understand our context? That says we are now “post-cultural” (which essentially means we should be Pakeha)

Love Ourselves

As I said, we have some great people doing some amazing things. We need to celebrate that – we need to foster innovation that honours our tikanga and our history. As a Haahi we have a glorious past, now let’s help our people have a glorious future.

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