2 Cor 4:13-5:1
by Rev Dr Paul Reynolds, St. John’s Theological College, Auckland, New Zealand
Te Pouhere Sunday / Second Sunday after Pentecost / Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
World Environment Day, 5th June 2021
The Woven Flax Cross – Te Ripeka Whiringa Harakeke, by Ross Hemana
Maori artist, Ross Hemana, was given a brief to design an Indigenous cross for the 3-Tikanga Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. His design of a woven flax cross is the symbol for the 3-Tikanga Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
(From the New Zealand Prayer Book)
Tahuri te kei o te mihi ki te Atua,
Koia te Timatanga,
koia hoki te Whakamutunga.
Na ona ringa e hanga nga mea katoa o te ao,
me mihi kau ana.
Greetings and acknowledgments to God,
Whom is the beginning and the end.
From his hands the world was built.
Here I greet you.
Kia Whakakaakahuria aau tohunga ki te tika; kia haamama taau hunga tapu I te hari. (Waiata 132:9)
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, O God; and let your faithful people cry out for joy. (Psalm 132:9)
In these sermon notes I would like to offer some perspectives and history from Tikanga Maori, the Indigenous Maori people from New Zealand, within the Province of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. I would like to offer a story around the establishment of the Maori Anglican Church, and the establishment of the 3-Tikanga Anglican Church in New Zealand and Polynesia. The celebration of this unique coming together of 3-Tikanga, Pakeha (European), Maori (Indigenous people of NZ), and Polynesian (people of Pasefika) within our province, is celebrated this year on Sunday 6th June as Te Pouhere Sunday.
I would also like to acknowledge that on 5th June is World Environment Day. This has significant importance for Maori and Polynesian people in particular in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia. In particular, Maori and Polynesian Anglicans within the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia took part in an international webinar on Environmental Racism, hosted by the Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN), the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) and the Anglican Alliance. I will share a little of this story and provide links to the webinars as an additional resource for you.
First, I want to start with the Gospel for Sunday 6th June, the Second Sunday after Pentecost. The Gospel comes from Mark 3: 20-35. There are two verses that I want to highlight from the words and teaching of Christ in the Gospel of Mark.
- In verse 25, Jesus says, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
- In verse 35, Jesus says, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
For me the message here is clear. We need to get our own house in order. In this particular sense I am talking about the Anglican Church worldwide, and the respect for all peoples in our faith. The voices of Indigenous Anglicans in our Anglican Communion worldwide have been absent. They have been absent for far too long. I will provide the story of the establishment of a 3-Tikanga Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia as an example of our church activating the fourth mark of mission, “To seek to transform unjust structures of society; to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.”
Once our house is in order and we acknowledge the Indigenous people of the lands we inhabit, we can then all truthfully live out God’s commandment of loving our neighbour. As we are all doing God’s work serving in the Anglican Church, you are my brother, you are my sister, and you are my mother. In order to illustrate this relationship of whanau, of family, I will draw on the international work of the Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN), the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) and the Anglican Alliance (AAN) who came together to provide a sacred space for Indigenous voice on a webinar on Environmental Racism.
In the chosen Gospel reading for Te Pouhere Sunday, John 15: 9-17, we hear the echo of similar sentiments to Mark 3: 20-35. In John 15: 12, Jesus says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
So what is Te Pouhere Sunday?
Te Pouhere Sunday is the day that we celebrate the establishment of the 3-Tikanga Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. This 1992 Constitution, known as Te Pouhere, is celebrated each year on the Second Sunday after Pentecost, as declared by General Synod in 2002.
This day acknowledges the journey of the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia to get its ‘own house in order.’ In May 1992, the General Synod adopted a revised constitution, Te Pouhere, which established a 3-Tikanga Anglican Church. Te Pouhere replaced the constitution for the church which had been in place since 1857.
The journey for the recognition and acknowledgement of Maori, as tangata whenua (people of the land) in Aotearoa, New Zealand has been challenging. However, there have been many within Te Haahi Mihinare (The Anglican Church in Aotearoa) who have been champions for God, and for Maori communities and people throughout Aotearoa, and for all.
1. A brief history of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia
The story of the Anglican church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, begins in 1814, when the Maori Chief Ruatara agreed to introduce Reverend Samuel Marsden to his people in Oihi, in the Bay of Islands. On Xmas Day 1814 Samuel Marsden preached to Ruatara’s people, the first to hear the gospel preached in Aotearoa.
Samuel Marsden along with Ruatara set up the first mission station at Oihi, expanding missionary activity as Te Hāhi Mihinare in the medium of the Māori language and in the context of tikanga Māori, which was initially under the guidance of the Church Missionary Society.
From this auspicious service, the gospel was shared with many around Aotearoa, New Zealand. In our NZ Prayer book, the canticle (Poi chant) composed by Archdeacon Sir Kingi Ihaka tells the story of Maori who spread the Gospel in Aotearoa, including Wiremu Te Tauri of Whanganui, and Piripi Taumataakura of Ngati Porou. Their stories are also acknowledged and celebrated in our Anglican Church “For All the Saints” book.
“For at least the first four decades of the Nineteenth Century, the Church in NZ was a Maori church. In fact, the Maori church, formed by the mission to the Maori People of the Church Missionary Society, was the only Church of England presence until the bishopric of NZ was offered to George Augustus Selwyn in 1841, and the first attempts were made to provide for mission and ministry to European settlers.” (Te Kaupapa Tikanga Rua, p.3)
When George Augustus Selwyn arrived in 1842, he came to Aotearoa as a Bishop of the United Church of England and Ireland, to minister to European settlers, using the English language and the customs and traditions of the Church of England. This meant that there were two pathways for church in New Zealand, the Maori Church formed by the mission to Maori of the Church Missionary Society, AND the new Settler Church initiated by Bishop Selwyn, that provided mission and ministry to European Settlers.
In the words of Archbishop John Paterson, in a sermon he gave on Te Pouhere Sunday on 23rd June 2019 at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland, New Zealand, he said:
“By the year 1857 the New Zealand Church had decided to promulgate a Constitution for itself, and that turned out to be for the Settler Church only. Not a single Maori was invited to the Synod held here in Auckland in June of that year, and only one CMS missionary was consulted about the likely consequences for the Native Church. St Stephen’s Church at Judges Bay was the venue for that occasion, and the altar was used for the signing of a document that was to define the life and laws of our Church for the next 135 years. From the one Diocese of New Zealand under Bishop Selwyn, the seven dioceses developed, each with their own episcopal leadership and developing their own individual styles. The Maori Church was left to struggle within each of those seven dioceses….”
The Church Missionary Society were ambivalent about Selwyn’s Colonial Church, believing that Maori should have their own Church and ministry. In fact, the Maori Church and the Church Missionary Society spent over a century advocating for ‘self determination,’ ‘self propagation,’ and to become ‘self supporting’ (after the Henry Venn principle of the ‘Three-self movement’).
2. The first Maori priest: Rev Rota Waitoa
On May 22nd every year in our province, this day is set aside in our Anglican Church Calendar to celebrate the life and servanthood of Rev Rota Waitoa, who was Te Maataamua o ngaa Minita Maori, the first Maori ordained as an Anglican minister in New Zealand. Rota Waitoa was ordained to the priesthood on 4 March 1860 by the Bishop of Waiapu, William Williams. Rev Rota Waitoa was an advocate for his people who were deeply feeling the effects of violence, land wars and land confiscation instigated by European settlers and the colonial government, and backed up by the force of English troops.
3. First Maori Bishop
In 1928 the Church established a ministry for a Bishop of Aotearoa for Maori, but the Bishop was acting as suffragan to the Bishop of Waiapu, and was largely confined to the Diocese of Waiapu. He also did not have a seat as a Bishop as of right in the General Synod of the Church. In fact, the Bishop of Aotearoa wasn’t given a seat on General Synod until 1964. The Bishop also did not have automatic episcopal jurisdiction in other diocese, and needed to seek permission and a license from each Diocesan Bishop.
The first Bishop of Aotearoa was Bishop Frederick Augustus Bennett. Bishop Bennett was born in Ohinemutu, Rotorua, in 1871 and is from the tribal areas of Ngati Whakaue, Te Arawa. In 1886, Bishop Suter invited a young Frederick Augustus Bennett to accompany him to Nelson to be educated and trained for ministry. He was ordained deacon in 1886, and priested in 1897, and then was sent out to minister to Maori communities around New Zealand. On 2nd December 1928 Frederick Augustus Bennett was consecrated as the first Bishop of Aotearoa, a suffragan Bishop of Waiapu. He served as Bishop from 1928 until 1950.
In 1948 Bishop Bennett attended the Lambeth Bishops Conference in London, and during this visit preached at Westminster Abbey. He then proceeded to the first assembly of the World Council of Churches at Amsterdam. Along with these overseas commitments he was engaged in the revision of the Māori Bible. In the New Year’s honours in 1948 he was made a Companion of The Most Distinguished Order Of Saint Michael And Saint George for distinguished service.
4. First Maori female priest and Bishop
Rev Puti Murray was the first female Maori priest ordained in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, and she was ordained in Te Kao in 1978. She is the second Maori women ordained in New Zealand, with Rev Diana Tana of the Methodist Church being the first, ordained in 1975.
In 2019, Bishop Waitohiariki Quayle became the first female Maori bishop in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. She was also the first female New Zealand born bishop for our province.
5. First Maori Primate and Governor General in Aotearoa, New Zealand
His excellency, Archbishop Sir Paul Reeves was the Primate and Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia from 1980 to 1985, and was Bishop of Waiapu in 1971. He was ordained as a Priest in 1960.
In 1985 he retired as Archbishop to accept the appointment as the 15th Governor-General of New Zealand, an office he held until 1990. He was the first Maori appointed to this significant role.
Sir Paul also held a number of national and international positions. He was appointed as the Anglican Observer at the United Nations from 1985 to 1988 and during this period, he also assisted the Bishop of the Diocese of New York.
Archbishop Sir Paul Reeves was also one of the founding members of the Anglican Indigenous Network, and its first chairperson. During the 1991 General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Phoenix , Arizona, USA, the first step was taken toward forming a network of indigenous Anglicans. Archbishop Sir Paul Reeves, as Anglican Observer to the United Nations, convened a meeting of indigenous Anglicans and/or their representatives from USA, Hawaii, Canada and Aotearoa/New Zealand, which included Bishop Whakahuihui Vercoe from New Zealand. The idea of an indigenous network to coincide with the United Nation’s International Year of the World’s Indigenous People was presented and the countries represented at the meeting agreed to participate in it. It was further decided that one person from each country meet as a steering committee with Sir Paul to develop a plan for networking among American Indians and Alaska Natives, Canadian Natives, Native Hawaiians and Maori. Thus began the Anglican Indigenous Network, which is one of the 11 Anglican Networks worldwide. The current Chair of the Anglican Indigenous Network is Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu, who has held this position since 2015.
6. Te Pouhere – 1992 revised constitution
With the change in the Constitution in 1992, the Three Tikanga Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia was established, giving autonomy to Tikanga Maori, Tikanga Polynesia and Tikanga Pakeha.
Archbishop John Paterson sums up the significance of Te Pouhere in his sermon given on Te Pouhere Sunday in 2019,
“The concept of there being three in one is not entirely unknown in the Church…the importance for the Anglican Church of the work we undertook to put our own house in order, to set it firmly on a rock, so that our foundational document as a Church, along with Bible and Prayer Book, will stand the raging of the elements and allow us the great privilege of serving as partners in Christ’s mission with our relations in Aotearoa and the Pacific.”
(Archbishop John Paterson, Sermon given on Te Pouhere Sunday on 23rd June 2019 at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland, New Zealand)
So what is World Environment Day, and how does it relate to Indigenous voice?
World Environment Day is celebrated annually on 5th June and is the United Nations‘ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment. First held in 1974, it has been a platform for raising awareness on environmental issues such as marine pollution, human overpopulation, global warming, sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. World Environment Day is a global platform for public outreach, with participation from over 143 countries annually.
For Indigenous Peoples around the world, every day is ‘World Environment Day.’ What I mean by this is that Indigenous people have an intimate, reciprocal and sacred relationship with all Creation. This was made clear when the Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN), the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) and the Anglican Alliance Network (AAN) brought together Indigenous Anglicans from four Provinces in the Anglican Communion Worldwide to share their voice on the environment, climate change and the guardianship relationship that Indigenous peoples have for all of the Earths creation.
In the Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesian webinar that was aired in November 2020, a powerful statement was made about the place of Indigenous voice in the world, and the shared responsibility for care of all of God’s Creation,
“In a world where relentless ecological degradation and widespread racism deny fullness of life to so, so many, we are called to expose and confront systems that silence, exploit, oppress and abuse. As the sea roars, the mountains tremble, the land moans, the stones cry out and creation groans, so we add our human voices to the cry of the earth community, resisting oppression and demanding justice and restoration. In practical and tangible terms, justice and restoration for Maori and Pacific peoples is realized through rangatiratanga or sovereignty and self-determination. This includes the ability to care for, and protect, God’s creation, exercising kaitiakitanga [guardianship], ensuring the physical and spiritual well-being of all. At the heart of the term ecology lies the Greek word oikos meaning house, home or household. Ecological well-being is weaved into that well-being of our home, the whole inhabited earth. The flourishing of one is impossible without the flourishing of all. It’s time to get our house back in order!”
The physical and spiritual wellbeing of all Creation is weaved into the well-being of our home, the whole inhabited earth. The kaitiakitanga [guardianship] for the wellbeing of our home is something we are all responsible for in our every-day life. As we all care for the wellbeing of the whole inhabited earth, we also fulfil the commandment from Jesus to “Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15: 12)
The importance of Te Pouhere Sunday and the World Environment Day is starkly clear for Indigenous Anglicans in our church worldwide.
In our Anglican Communion 5 Marks of Mission, the fourth mark of mission is, “To seek to transform unjust structures of society; to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.” In acknowledging and respecting and giving voice and autonomy to Maori and Polynesian peoples within the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the province is fulfilling the fourth mark of mission within our Anglican Communion worldwide. The establishment of the 3-Tikanga Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia through the revision of the Constitution in 1992, Te Pouhere, was an act of social justice, and it was about ‘getting our own house in order.’
Similarly, the Indigenous wisdom and voice on the environment and care of creation was heard at the end of last year in the form of an international webinar on Environmental Racism, entitled “Prophetic Indigenous Voices on the Planetary Crisis.”
If we are truly to live out what Christ says in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 3: 20-35), we need to get our own house in order. The voices of Indigenous Anglicans in our Anglican Communion worldwide have been absent. They have been absent for far too long. The Indigenous voices represented in the Environmental Racism webinar series from last year, articulated the sacred and divine relationship that Indigenous peoples have with God and all of Creation.
Once our house is in order and we acknowledge the Indigenous people of the lands we inhabit, we can then all truthfully live out Christ’s commandment of loving our neighbour and each other. As we are all doing God’s work serving in the Anglican Church worldwide, you are my brother, you are my sister, and you are my mother.
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Isaiah 61: 1-2a)
Kia tau te Rangimarie o te Atua ki a koutou.
The peace of God be always with you all.
by Rev Dr Paul Reynolds, New Zealand