Saturday, 10 May 2014

Waitangi

It's been 16 year, I think, since I was last at Waitangi. We Pakeha walked the short distance to the hotel to the Treaty House and waited in the sunshine while the Anglican Maori gathered from around New Zealand were welcomed onto the marae and into the meeting house by the kaitiaki of the house. We stood on the vast lawn and looked past the flagpole flying the three flags (New Zealand, The Union Jack and The United Tribes) Then in due course we were called on.

The young people of our church had been meeting over the last few days and, augmented by a large number of young locals, they lined up on either side of the meeting house and sang a waiata as we approached. From the porch of Te Whare Runanga three warriors approached in challenge, each carrying a taiaha. There were two young men and one young woman. A woman wielding a taiaha and participating in such a challenge is an almost unheard of departure from tradition, especially in a context where Maori from every region of Aotearoa were present. We took off our shoes and entered the  house. We seated ourselves in the customary manner, facing the Tangata Whenua with men at the front and women behind, but I couldn't quite shake the message that someone had been giving us at the door.

The mood in the house was cordial and relaxed. The speeches lacked nothing but they were brief. The singing, from three traditions, echoing round amongst the tupuna figures and the carved rafters was enthusiastic and rich. Then we exchanged hongi and walked back down the hill.

Today's session in IDC was better than yesterday's. In fact it was good to be there. On the agenda was the Ma Whea commission's report on same gender relationships. To begin the discussion Bishop Jim White and Rev Andrew Burgess, representing different views on the possibility of same gender Anglican marriage gave position statements and answered questions. Both men are theologically literate, erudite and very capable public speakers. It was a foregone conclusion that neither could say anything that would change the minds of the proponents of opposing views, but as they spoke something else happened. They treated each other with such mutual respect and friendship, and listened and engaged with each other so honestly and deeply that many from opposing ends of the theological spectrum began to glimpse the possibility that we might -just might -be able to hold very different opinions and still live together in one church.

Discussion continued through the afternoon and into the evening. We talked also about the three tikanga structure of our church and of a new constitution for St. John's Theological College in Auckland. We talked within our diocese, and in small groups, across diocesan boundaries. My own views were challenged, deepened and broadened. By the time we finished a little after 8 pm there was a developing sense of community which was pretty novel for IDC. I'm actually starting to look forward to General Synod on Monday.

4 comments:

NIE said...

Thanks Kelvin. Sounds really hopeful, engaging as sisters and brothers in Christ. May all go very well in these next days. Arohanui

Murray Jones said...

Bishop Kelvin

You and those from our Diocese are very much in my thoughts.
My prayers are with you and the others in relation to the challenging items have and still to be discussed.
All the best.
Murray Jones
St Luke's Parish, Oamaru

Murray Jones said...

Bishop

Many thanks for devoting time to advise,report via Available Light. It is very much appreciated by me.

Murray Jones
St Luke Parish, Oamaru

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