Opinion: Tamsyn Kereopa

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Ok, so it’s Runanganui time and I’m supposed to be writing a ‘think piece’ about what I think our Haahi could do for our people.[pause for laugh].Shouldn’t it be blatantly obvious?But here goes nothing….

Unless you have been under a rock somewhere over the past few days, you will be aware of the “Roastbusters”.Literally, I have been able to think of nothing else since I heard about them.For those who are not aware, these idiots (I’m sorry, I can’t think of a nicer way to put it) are a group of teen boys, who systematically embarked on intoxicating and gang raping young women – girls.Now, that is bad enough to be sure.But the handling of this situation by the police – who have known about the activities of these boys for at least two years – is bordering on the insane.In their defence (and God knows they have had plenty of it in the media over the last few days), there was ‘no evidence’ during this time – and is still not enough – to convict any of them.*banging my head against the wall* – but what literally pushed me over the edge was the RadioLive interview with Willie Jackson and John Tamihere.While I could go on for hours on this topic and would dearly love to pull it apart, my concern here is that I have heard nothing about this from our Haahi leaders!No outrage, no sympathy, no consolation, advice, leadership – no response.If we as a church are as immune as we seem to be around issues such as this, then what is the point?Literally, how then, are we relevant?

I offer three simple points of discussion on my views around what the Haahi should be doing for our people.

The first, taking lead from what I have said above is that it must be relevant to the needs of our people. And I’m sorry, but I’m not convinced those needs are perfect application of the liturgy, Sunday services, theology, or even resource management!Relevance is being there for our people – relevance is social ACTION.Just in case I need to spell it out, relevance is the feeding of our children and the education of our young people.Relevance is standing against injustice in all its forms, particularly perhaps in the institutional injustices that are so destructive.Relevance is in the transformation of a culture that is killing our babies, and in the eradication of poverty.Relevance is in voicing – and acting constructively on anger against all forms of abuse and cultural ideologies that devalue us as human beings.

The second is that our church must be a unified entity for our people.I’m sorry, but all this infighting is ridiculous.We might be pan-tribal, but we are also (dare I say it) post-tribal.But our leaders are fighting!How can we expect anything more from our people?What the church should do for our people, therefore, is have integrity.Live in love, peace and light.Be kind to each other.Love one another.

The third, is that our Haahi requires VISION.Without vision, we die.And all this is notwithstanding the legitimacy and efficacy of our three-tikanga constitution!This is Te Pihopatanga I’m talking about!The challenge to our leadership right now is crucial.We are at the crossroads.Te Pihopatanga is the embodiment of a rich history and legacy of cultural, political and spiritual relevance, activism and transformation.But in its current form it is flawed.We need new vision.We have in front of us an opportunity for new frameworks, new paradigms and new voices.Our Haahi needs to push through our resistance to change and provide options for the future.

So these are my three short reflections.I am aware many of you might think them trivial, cliché, or even sound-bitey, and perhaps they are.Perhaps I am a little naïve.But there it is.

To end, I just can’t help leaving a little something for JT and WJ.Just in case you’re reading this boys:

Rape is a crime. Women are the victims of it. Rape is not the just desert of any woman who dresses casually, goes out at night, or lives alone. And women do not cause rape by their growing freedom. If we want to place the blame anywhere other than on the criminal himself, we must look at the society that creates him. Rape victims have been treated as the guilty ones, the outcasts, for too long.

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