Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Last Day

The last day of our General synod was marked by two related debates, and one historic decision.

The first, painful debate concerned Te Aute College. Te Aute is a boy's Anglican boarding school and it is in serious trouble. A series of unfortunate investment decisions, falling rolls, troubles with staff and governance have all contributed to an ongoing crisis. At our last General Synod in 2010 in Gisborne we granted assistance to the school which has now run to almost 3 million dollars. The school has made heroic efforts to change: there is now a board of governors of some of the most notable people in Maoridom. Huge energy has gone into the myriad and complex issues which  discourage so many Maori parents from sending their sons there. Plans are in place for upgrading some of the infrastructure and the board is optimistic that Te Aute can regain much of its former glory, but it will run at a loss for some time yet and Professor Whatarangi Winiata asked us to underwrite a solid portion of that loss. The immediate cost would be another million or so, with further commitments for at least five years and probably longer.

The matter was discussed in tikanga and it wasn't long before we all realised we had arrived at an impasse. The difficulty was in the tension between a particularly Maori and a particularly Pakeha approach to the problem. For Maori, Te Aute is not just another school. It is the place where some of the most notable figures of recent Maori history have been nurtured. The history and mana of Te Aute form an irreplaceable part in modern Maori self understanding. For Pakeha, the figures simply didn't stack up. There are many excellent state boarding schools in the North Island offering first rate education in Te Reo Maori. All are associated with large secondary schools and are based in centres which offer a range of sporting, social and cultural opportunities for students, and it is increasingly to these that Maori parents are looking. Given the continuing decline in church based Maori boarding schools across all denominations, the ongoing fiscal problems of Te Aute, and the other not yet resolved issues at the school, the board's projected roll increases and fiscal surpluses seemed wildly optimistic. It seemed to me, and I think to others, that the greater goal of excellent Anglican Maori education could be fatally compromised by the ongoing needs of Te Aute. We Pakeha said "no." Polynesia and Tikanga Maori said "yes".  It was a painful and difficult moment, which in a way provided the basis for our next decision.

Prof. Winiata also moved a motion asking that we set up a body to look at the issue of tiro rangatiratanga with regard to the assets of the St. John's College trust board. This is not a grab for half of the church's assets as has been luridly and crudely reported in some sections of the media, but something far more subtle and profound. The debate on Te Aute had been,in reality,the church as one body making a decision on funding for one of its constituent organisations. What it felt like, to both Maori and Pakeha, was Maori coming cap in hand to beg money from Pakeha who, for reasons not fully explained, and in seeming contradiction to a stated enthusiasm for Te Tiriti o Waitangi, chose to withhold it. Neither of us liked that, not even a little bit, so suddenly the idea of tino rangatiratanga started to make sense. Now, like most Pakeha, I do not fully grasp the subtlety of tino rangatiratanga but this is what I think it means: what is being asked for is not ownership; after all, we all already own the asset. What is being asked for is the ability to make decisions regarding spending and investment of the half of the assets in a way which is particularly Maori. In dollar terms this will make very little difference indeed to the way in which the money is actually spent, and may in all likelihood result in a smaller number of dollars going to Tikanga Maori. But what it would allow is for Maori decisions to be made in a Maori way on the issues which impact them most. The motion was passed with enthusiasm and a sense that we had passed a significant milestone on the journey we embarked on with the passing of our new constitution in 1992.

We finished with a dinner under the stars and with final conversations and the sound of Fijian music. I was privileged to propose a motion, passed with a standing ovation, thanking Tony Fitchett for 30 years of service as a member of General Synod. Tony is stepping down now to spend more time with Bronwyn and the 8 acres they live on near Dunedin.  I doubt there is anybody in the country with a more thorough knowledge of the church's processes than Tony. On our Diocesan Synod, at General Synod and latterly on the ACC, he has saved us all countless hours of confusion by gently but firmly untangling the knots in which we are prone to tie ourselves. His deep commitment on matters of justice and equality, his decency and his intelligence are rare assets and he will be sorely missed.

22 comments:

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kelvin,
I appreciate very much the insight and "fuller" reporting of the situations noted in your post.

I do not share with you any sense that, should the tino rangatiratanga be approved, there will be little or no change to the way things are done with the SJCTB funds.

I predict there will be change. It may be good. But Te Aute's situation itself offers pause for thought about the fruits of tino rangatiratanga.

Plus I predict a Maori withdrawal from SJC upon the institution of tino rangatiratanga!

VenDr said...

I wouldn't suggest that there will be no change, but rather that the proportions allocated to each tikanga will remain about the same. Within tikanga Maori I would expect great change. That is the point after all. I don't know that anyone could predict what those changes would be.

Peter Carrell said...

I take your point, +Kelvin, that there will be change.

I wonder what happens though, if Maori were to withdraw from SJC. Would the funding of that be a draw down on the 50% shared by Pakeha and Polynesia, or somehow separate from either Maori or Pakeha/Polynesian shares?

(I guess no one knows the answer to that question until 2014!)

VenDr said...

That is the sort of detail to be worked through in the next 2 years. I am not sure they will withdraw from sjc. Remember it's not ownership we're talking about here but tino rangatiratanga, and it will be in everyone's interest if the trust is kept intact as a legal entity, at least for investment purposes. I personally favor a model where the college will be kept separate from each tikanga share and has a certain measure of independence. Each share will be large but not all that large and no tikanga will be able to do all it wants out of its share, especially if importance is attached to bailing out a school which looks like it will hemorrhage money for a good while to come. I expect tikanga Maori will be as canny in exercising tino rangatiratanga as most iwi have been with treaty settlements.

Shawn said...

Of course it is a grab for half the assets. The largely meaningless phrase of "Tino Rangatiratanga" is simply a cover for what amounts to ethnic plunder and thinly disguised apartheid.

The Treaty has become an idol in the Anglican Church and is distorting both our eclessiology and our theology.

VenDr said...

To describe a phrase as meaningless would be more of a reflection on your own understanding, Shawn, than on the actual content of the word.

The asset being "grabbed" is the St. johns College Trust. This is a trust set up by Bishop Selwyn to benefit the children of both races (this is how the trust deed states it) by providing education that is specifically Christian in nature. That is, the terms of the trust unequivocally specify an equal benefit to Maori and Pakeha. That is the first point to remember. The second is that Maori already own the trust, along with Pakeha, and that part of the church ( Polynesia) invited into the arrangement by Pakeha. What the Maori grievance is, is that although they own half the trust, they don't seem to get half the say in how the trust is invested or spent. They want that rectified, not by dividing the trust, but by having the right to say how half it is used.that sounds eminently fair to me.

As for the Treaty, I am glad to have it because it is the Treaty which guarantees me, a Pakeha a place in this country. Unlike the white people of other colonial places who simply barged in and stole the country from those who were there first, our Pakeha ancestors were granted a place here by the treaty, and I for one value that very highly. It was Anglicans who helped draft the treaty and Anglicans, who by dint of the esteem in which they were held by Maori persuaded Maori to sign it. I think therefore that we Anglicans have a special responsibility to safeguard the treaty and embody the spirit of it in our daily life.

Shawn said...

Ownership of the trust is held by Christians. That should be all that matters. Dividing the church and/or the Trust along ethnic lines is contrary to the Gospel,

Your right to live in New Zealand, as is mine, is not provided nor gauranteed by the Treaty. It is provided and gauranteed by the fact that you were born here and/or are a citizen. It is citizenship alone which establishes the right to live here, not the Treaty.

The Treaty, of which there is more than one version and more than a hundred differing interpretations, is far too subjective a document to be the basis of law and justice in New Zealand, and it's application, both in the Church and in society is in fact creating injustice and what amounts to a form of Maori ethnic supremacism that is contrary to justice.

There is no such thing as a "Pakeha". That term is little more than a racist designation in which only Maori ethnicity is recognized, and the ethnic heritage of every other people is denied. To divide New Zealanders along that line is an offensive insult to the many peoples, British, Irish, Dutch, French, Chinese and so forth who all make up this nation. Dumping everyone except Maori into a single meaningless category that denies our own blood and cultural heritage is racist. My ancestors called themselves the French, not the "Pakeha".

VenDr said...

The trust is owned by the Anglican Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand who are obliged by law to carry out the wish of the donor, who, for better or worse said that he intended that Maori and Pakeha should benefit from it. Which is what we are doing.

New Zealand as an entity was begun when the Treaty was signed. Your citizenship and mine, are therefore dependent on the treaty, for without it there is no New Zealand to be a citizen of. Being born in a place, incidentally, doesn't assure you of citizenship. Neither does being born in a country necessarily grant a right to live in that country, as anyone born to a non Qatari in Qatar will tell you ( as just one example of many)

There is certainly such a thing as Pakeha. I am one and proud to be so. My ancestors were Scottish but I am certainly not a Scot. My identity is in this country, in the place where I have an ironclad right to be. It would be a pretty sad thing if we had to go scrabbling around for an identity in those places which, some generations ago, our ancestors chose to leave because they didn't much like it there. it is true that 'Pakeha' is a term which means essentially 'not Maori' but this observation doesn't mean much, as 'Maori' is a term that only came into being after Pakeha arrived; it means the ordinary people, or in other words, 'not Pakeha' .

Maori do things differently than I do. That is something to be celebrated, not feared. This asset, the St. johns Trust, belongs to them, well, half it anyway. Why should there be any worry about letting the, do what they want with their own property?

Shawn said...

It dad that you would deny your own heritage. People came to NZ for a variety of reasons, not all were simply that they did not like the land of their birth. Economics also played a role, probably the main one.

Many of the peoples who live here celebrate their heritage and keep it alive. That is not "scrabbling" around. It is recognition of the reality of culture and heritage. Attempts to deny the European cultural heritage of the peoples who came here to live is absurd, as is the attempt to create out of thin air some culturally and ethnically vacuous identity called "Pakeha".

I am proud of my heritage and I honor my ancestors. Ironically it is Maori themselves who understand the values of doing so.

According to NZ law it is citizenship which is the sole basis of the legal right to live here, not the Treaty. More importantly birth alone should be the basis of who is a New Zealander, not the Treaty.

Maori may "do things differently" but this can eerily be an excuse for doing things badly, as anyone familiar with what goes on in the Maori wing of St Johns can testify to.








That Maori's do things differently may be true

Shawn said...

Sorry about the poor formatting of my last post, I am still getting used to typing and posting on an iPod.

Last point, lest this turn into another tedious ping pong game with the same points being repeated.

It is a testament to the success of the propaganda of the liberal state and the hegemony of cultural Marxists in our institutions that European New Zealanders are encouraged to deny their own heritage, which cannot be limited to only the last 150 years, while Maori are encouraged to reclaim and celebrate theirs.

Racist double standard?

VenDr said...

Who is denying their heritage? I am a fifth generation New Zealander and very proud of that. I have been to Scotland a couple of times and my favorite city in all the world is Edinburgh. But I am not a Scot. I am from here. I get East and West muddled up when north of the equator because my psyche is so attuned to the Southern sun. And anyone who knows the sorry history of the highland clearances will grasp why my great great grandparents shook the dust of the place off their feet when they left. Believe me, Maori have no monopoly on doing things badly.

So if being Pakeha is a culturally and ethically vacuous term what then shall I call myself? I am a New Zealander, but of a particular subset, that is, I am one of those whose descent is European, but I grew up here and have been formed by the emerging culture of this land, not of the land my ancestors left 170 years ago. Pakeha might be an empty term to you, but it is not to me. It is who and what I am. My accent, my values, my way of being in the world are Kiwi, not Scots, no matter how congenial I find my distant kinsmen.

Peter Carrell said...

I agree with you about 'being Pakeha', +Kelvin. I have no grandparents who were born in the UK. Three out of four were born right here in NZ; one I am not sure where born, whether in Germany or Australia. We fill out the meaning of 'Pakeha' by claiming it for ourselves as a nomenclature appropriate for Kiwis of once-European origins.

(I do not speak for Asian and Polynesian NZers as to what is appropriate designation for them).

tomairangi said...

Kia ora, Kelvin. I appreciate what you have written here and am heartened after returning from Fiji deeply saddened. Hukarere will not survive if Te Aute goes. The previous Trustees used the land and buildings of Hukarere as collatoral for the loans they took out and the Bank has refused to allow the two schools to be separated. The Motion was really a request by Tikanga Maori for moral support from our Tikanga partners in the quest to keep the two schools open, we knew that we would need to apply to the SJCTB, through Te Kotahitanga, irrespective of the outcome of the vote on the Motion because GSTHW does not have the resources to assist. The decision by Tikanga Pakeha not to support the Motion, despite the words spoken by ++David, was yet another confirmation that Tikanga Pakeha do not trust Tikanga Maori as a partner and, even worse, continue to regard themselves as the owners of the Church - exhibiting similar attitudes and approaches that Shawn expresses here. My request on behalf of Tikanga Maori for a vote by Tikanga was to record for posterity that Tikanga Pakeha voted against and Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Pasefika voted for. It shows that little has changed in the Church despite the 1992 Constitution.

I am heartened, though, by what you have written as it confirms for me that individually there are some great and helpful people in Tikanga Pakeha and that not all of you are like Shawn. However, collectively there is a huge difference.

Concerning Motion 27, while I appreciate the positive development on this, I have been wondering how many in the Tikanga Pakeha caucus wanted to put conditions on Tikanga Maori? I would not be surprised if there were quite a few, afterall that is what has been done to Maori from the beginning of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and "it is impossible for a leopard to change its spots".

tomairangi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tomairangi said...

Kia ora ano, Kelvin. I just wanted to add that I too have Pakeha ancestory but because of my brown skin all of my life I have been automatically marked as being Maori and not Pakeha. I feel that I have been denied my Pakeha ancestory and heritage because of this. Would I try to pursue my Pakeha ancestory now that I am in my 50s? No! I have experienced too much prejudice to want to know who I am as a Pakeha.

VenDr said...

Kia Ora, Tomairangi.

I have been thinking about Fiji almost continually for the last couple of days, and going over what was decided. It is the decision on the St. Johns trust which is the historic one, and which will mark, I think, a turning point in the church. But it is the fate of Hukarere which really bothers me. I don't think many of us at synod quite grasped the whole delicate situation, despite Whata's careful explanation. The Pakeha caucus statement specifically mentioned Hukarere, but I don't think many if any quite got that a decision on Te Aute was also a decision on Hukarere.

After the event, I read the ERO report on Te Aute, and it is actually not as bad as I expected it to be. Whata was right that significant progress has been made. Whether the existing model of education represented by Te Aute is ultimately a viable one is a debate able matter though.

Perhaps there is another model?

Shawn said...

Question,

Is there anything wrong with considering ourselves European New Zealanders?

It might help to define what I mean by "Euorpean".

For me Euopean is not merely a geographic designation, but a cultural and civilisationsl one. It means to be the heirs of a civilization that was a fusion of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome.

For those of us on the European diaspora, it is important, both to honor our ancestors and to acknowledge our civilisationsl heritage, to claim and defend that heritage, especially on these times of state enforced multiculturalism, when European civilization is do often the target of hate.

VenDr said...

Well, why not, if that's what you want to call yourself. I prefer a term which shows I am from here, not the other side of the planet where the seasons are all wrong and the warm bit of the hill is the south We may be heirs of Jerusalem Athens and Rome ( you forgot Alexandria and Mecca and according to your heritage perhaps Iona or Cluny ) but given the global village and all that pretty much every culture on earth is now heir to these things. I am proudest of the bits that make me different, so, uniquely I am also proud to be heir to Parihaka and Waitangi.

VenDr said...

....and ultimately I suppose, we are all heirs of Uldivai....

tomairangi said...

Kia ora ano, Kelvin. On another matter, others in Tikanga Maori and I were concerned to hear about the situation that Dunedin Diocese is in. It is a situation that we are familiar with but nevertheless you and your people have all our aroha. Did any of the other dioceses offer to help? Can the whole of our Church come together to help?

Wynston said...

When it comes to describing my identity I find the original southern Maori term for non-Maori "Takata pora" = "people of the ships" best. It is also wonderfully inclusive in that like those of Maori, my forebears came to this country by means sea-going vessel.

VenDr said...

Thanks Tomoirangi. In real terms there's to a lot anybody can do, I have said for ages that our diocese is a pioneer. The graphs of most of the dioceses in the western world are heading downwards, and we got here first. Big joke. Except it's actually sort of true. We are having to reinvent ourselves as a diocese, as is Christchurch , and nobody can give us a heads up as to how to go about it, because nobody, the Pakeha anyway, has quite experienced this. It is actually quite challenging but exciting and refreshing to be in this place, and I only hope and pray we can make best use of the opportunity that has been given us.