Time for a Hāpu-based Hāhi Again?

In 1992 after much negotiation Mihinare gained our mana motuhake within the Church. However we then proceeded to break that church up into 5 Hui Amorangi and, contrary to expectations at the time, these Hui Amorangi have effectively become independent Dioceses, each unto their own.

Now that might have been fine had it been effective, but actually our Hāhi is shrinking rapidly. In the last census we have lost another 20% of our people, and we know that on the ground numbers are shrinking every year.

This is happening with every Christian denomination in this country. In the US the Episcopalian Church (Anglicans) are undertaking a major review of their national operation to try to counter this. The reality is though it is  probably too late for top-down change.

Instead we need to consider other models. Instead of endless meetings and increasing hierarchies and bureaucracy, how about we re-look at the church as a hāpu and iwi-based church, which is how we started off. Of course hāpu and iwi look different today, especially in the cities. But we need to try something, and working from the ground up looks like a good place to start.

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How do Mihinare Vote?

vote14Yes Mihinare have always been involved in politics in Aotearoa – even if not always on the same side! The question is how do we get involved in politics in a way that carries out our mission to give sight to the blind, food to the hungry and lets the imprisoned go free without necessarily buying into the adversarial nature of the NZ political system?

Below are some links to various resources that might help us in our decision making this election, mostly from the Presbyterian Church. Have a read and a think, kōrero with your whānau, and then vote!

Te Kāhui Mana Ririki, the tamariki advocacy organisation

NZ as a Better World Neighbour by Pauline McKay, Director of CWS

Every Child Counts by Mike O’Brien, Associate Professor at Auckland University

Every Child Counts by Susan St John, Associate Professor at Auckland University

Healthy Homes Lead to Healthy Lives by the Rev Sheena Dickson, Convenor of the Christchurch Presbytery’s Church & Society Group

Gross Inequality Costs Everyone by the Rev Rodney Routledge, Community Development Worker and minister at St Andrews, Rangi Ruru, Christchurch.

Are we a punitive society? by Kim Workman

Overcoming the politics of fear: living adventurously in Aotearoa New Zealand by Kevin Clements


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The Future of Karakia?

Above is a Youtube video of the Reverend Spanky Moore from the Diocese of Christchurch presiding over a eucharist at The Abbey, the national gathering of Tikanga Pakeha rangatahi. It sounds different from what we normally hear. Spanky uses the Prayer Book and everything is well-ordered. And most of all, it is innovative, even if it may not be to all of our tastes

Sung eucharists are nothing new – Te Manawa o Te Wheke have been using a version set to guitars for over  decade. Pihopa Frederick Bennett on becoming the first Pihopa o Aotearoa in 1928 challenged the haahi to innovate, and we have a long history of experimenting, but always based on good grounding of who we are as Mihinare.

Here’s the question: where is our Mihinare innovation in karakia coming from? Are we encouraging innovation that is based on our tikanga and matauranga and yet reaches out to a new generation? Do we even need to, or is the New Zealand Prayer Book and Rawiri all we will ever need? Kapa Haka strives endlessly to innovate – do we need to do the same?

Na Hirini.


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Hikoi of Hope – Nga Ika o Piripane

ikasmLouise Tarei is part of a Mihinare ministry to Tamariki and Rangatahi in Brisbane, and they recently held a hikoi to celebrate their faith. Lousie shares her hopes for their future.

The first Sunday of December saw Anglicans everywhere celebrate the beginning of Advent. It was also the Sunday that the Brisbane Kura Ratapu took charge of the Sunday service, and where we lit the first candle of “Hope”. The service was based on our hope for our Rangatahi within the church to be given a “voice”, and more importantly, be heard as valuable members of the church. As disciples of Christ it was our responsibility as a congregation to nurture and lead them.

The following Saturday, members of the Brisbane Maori Anglican mission and the Kura Ratapu, “Nga Ika o Piripane” , stepped out in “Faith” and “Hope”, side by side in support to raise funds to assist in the  spiritual education of our Tamariki and Rangatahi. This journey was aptly nick named the “Hikoi of Hope”.

The words of the sermon the week before had not fallen on deaf ears and a voice was given to our Tamariki and Rangatahi. That day was about so much more than just raising funds for our kids. It showed them that our Kaumatua were not only willing and motivated to support them but wanting to walk beside them as equals. Over the 6 hour nonstop walkathon our kids (and the kids at heart) were reminded of the difficulties one faces when they decide to walk with the Lord. The walk taught them patience, perseverance, commitment, faith and love. All the fundamentals when planting the seeds of faith in our youth of all ages. Most importantly they learnt that when they step first with the Lord all things are made possible. We ALL learnt so much from each other throughout the day. From prams to walking frames, they were in full force and nothing was going to stop them from reaching their goals.

Established in May of this year, we have received over-whelming support both from the local Maori church and the local community. Whilst we are still in our infancy our focus has been to lay a solid foundation to help our youth establish and keep a relationship with God whilst helping to guide them on their journey with Jesus Christ.

We need to recognize that our youth are no longer our future, but are fast becoming our present, and if we do not allow them a voice to be heard now, then when the time comes to call on them, our voices will be the ones that fall on deaf ears.

Ministry for our youth within our The Pihopatanga I find has been somewhat lacking. That is not to say that I have not seen good things within the Pihopatanga, because I have seen some “Great” things for our Rangatahi. But believers come in all shapes, all sizes, all colours and All Ages. The first step is to recognise that we have a need for all age groups and then work to fill it. God said “The path he has chosen for us will not be easy, he just promises that it will be worth it”. As I look around me at the faces in our Church which range from 1 year to 75 years I can’t help but feel our small congregation here in Brisbane has stepped out (in Faith) into an exciting new journey and I for one can’t wait to see where this ride takes us…..1Tim 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth but be an example in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

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The Global Indigenous Church

mandela02Reverend Tamsyn Kereopa recently attended the biannual meeting of the Anglican Indigenous Network in Christchurch. Here, along with a timely tribute to Nelson Mandela, are her thoughts.

In 1998, then President Nelson Mandela was awarded an honorary Degree from Harvard University. Characteristically defiant in graciousness, his powerful acceptance speech reminded the global community that despite great gains, there is still much work to be done:

The greatest single challenge facing our globalized world is to combat and eradicate disparity.  While in all parts of the world progress has been made in enhancing democratic forms of government, we constantly need to remind ourselves that the freedom which democracy brings will remain empty shells if they are not accompanied by real and tangible improvement of the material lives of the millions of ordinary citizens of those countries.  Men and women and children go burdened with hunger, suffering from preventable diseases, languishing in ignorance and illiteracy, and finding themselves bereft of shelter.  Talk of democracy and freedom that does not recognize these material aspects can ring hollow and erode the confidence exacted in those values we seek to promote.  Hence our universal obligation towards the building of a world in which there shall be greater equality among nations and among citizens of nations.

During the abomination that was Apartheid, as I’m sure you all know, the African people living in South Africa effectively lived as third class citizens in their own country.  After the over 40 year struggle of the ANC, democracy was instituted and Apartheid abolished, making for equal political rights and opportunities for all people regardless of race, gender or creed.  The utopia achieved by the revolution of ordinary citizens, although not entirely complete, was instituted by the very man criminalized and abused as a treasonous outlaw.  It is easy to overlook the fact, however, that the justice system which enslaved generations is one not completely unlike that which casts our own Indigenous people as either a drain and/or treasonous in uprising, and who continue to treat them as second class citizens. Despite great gains in modern times and despite post-colonial theory and the so called “Indigenous renaissance”, there is a growing paradox of contempt for Indigenous communities globally. Moreover statistics still point to a larger percentage of poverty, suicide, oppression and abuse in many of the Indigenous communities and peoples represented at the most recent AIN – and without getting into the many harrowing stories and histories, this is some of the context in which Anglican Indigenous representatives from Hawaii, America, Canada, Torres Strait Island, Australia and New Zealand met in Christchurch last week. 

The history of the AIN is a political journey of faith that is far from over.  Unfortunately under resourcing and the lack of any real finance has halted progress of the Network significantly, but this years’ quite practical resolutions I think are significant and have set the Network on a firmer footing for future success and impact at a global level.  One such discussion was around responding to the Anglican Consultative Council’s invitation to report back at the next meeting.  Specifically, there was discussion around responding with a request that the ACC adopt the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights and implement all that adherence to those articles would require from the global church.  To me this would be a revolutionary foot on which Indigenous people would have to stand in future negotiations around resourcing and self-determination in our world-wide Anglican Communion.  Of note however, is the fact that all of the nations represented at the Network were the very ones whose governments denied support of the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights at its inception. 

There were also decisions made about how best to move forward in terms of governance, with a new Secretariat – the leadership of the new Secretary General Bishop John Gray, himself an advocate for Tikanga Maori rights here in the Church of New Zealand, Aotearoa and Polynesia, and the Administrative support of Charles Hemana.  While seemingly simple, these changes have the potential to greatly alter the efficiency and effectiveness of the Network both locally and globally.  And this is really what the AIN is about.  It is about Indigenous people supporting each other in the struggle toward self-determination and Tino-Rangatiratanga across the globe.  We recognize the responsibility we have for freedom and justice in this our global village, not simply in our own back yard.  In this spirit, alliances were made between countries who have agreed to support each other towards achieving greater Indigenous autonomy, power and self-determination in their respective churches.  It is also in this spirit that I think we in the Pihopatanga have, and must, realize our own responsibility, not only to ourselves, but to Indigenous communities that might not find themselves as far down the track to self-determination as we are.  There is in my view perhaps the temptation, due in no small part to the difficulties of our own struggle, to be insular and self-focussed.  In our post-tribal society and world, the need for inter-national brotherhood and sisterhood is not only required, but a necessary part of Christian life, and the only way toward global transformation.  Perhaps this is one of the challenges that the AIN presents to us, Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa. 

However, notwithstanding a critique of the dominant partners in our churches, we must perhaps also ask about our own attempts and visioning – does the way we are currently proceeding, the direction in which we are taking ourselves as Indigenous people – specifically as Maori in Te Pihopatanga, need critique?  Does the Pihopatanga for example currently embody the values of freedom, justice, peace and love that are the very platform on which we argue for self-determination?  Or are we, in being content with this form, content to allow the inadequacies and injustices that remain in our own governance and leadership, and the apparent lack of relevancy to our own people?  As we have seen from the failures, inadequacies and flat out injustice and fraud in many of our self-determining Maori efforts and initiatives, self-determination does not necessarily make for utopia. On the contrary, these are questions we need to constantly ask ourselves – self critique is an  essential part of our enduring success.    

This questioning might be helped by listening to other nations in the Network – our sister church in Canada for instance is characterized by the determination to be consciously unlike the mother church in many ways – and therein perhaps lies much of its success.  This is possibly one reason they have already voted in their first indigenous woman bishop – a realization yet to be achieved by Te Pihopatanga.  Surely our self-determination must require a unique way of being Christian Maori also, rather than defaulting to the status quo way of doing church – with a Maori face.  In this way the Network encourages us to look at ourselves critically.   

Overall my experience at the AIN reminded me of the importance of global sisterhood and brotherhood, and of our shared experiences of oppression and disfranchisement.  But it also reminded me quite powerfully of the potency of our shared humanity and capacity for transformation.  The Pihopatanga, despite its own current context and struggles, remains an instrument of intense potential at a global level – even beyond the church – and although our own struggles remain to be worked through, we, I think, must own the responsibilities we have to our Indigenous brothers and sisters all over the world.  My own hope is that our Pihopatanga, our people, and the global Indigenous community will one day, despite our struggles, be able to stand with our arms open, but until then, and despite reports to the contrary from dominant partners in our churches, there is much work toward justice for Indigenous peoples still to be done.

The loss of Nelson Mandela has left the world poorer.  His life and legacy inspire us all, not least of all us, as Indigenous, political, and Christian beings, towards a more free, just, peaceful, and loving humanity.  The challenge is this:

“Where human beings are being oppressed, there is more work to be done.  It is in your hands now”.

- Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

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