The Road to Oihi - Waitangi

It's about three hours drive from Orewa to Waitangi. The road is winds up and down and around a series of small hills, through rural service towns and a lot of forests. Us Otago people play spot the kauri, getting points for every one seen, the way other people might do for Christmas trees or garden gnomes. Cloud cover was low, so on some of the higher hills we were driving through it, dark green native bush hazy in the fog. The rain was falling quite heavily when we arrived here around 2:00pm.

A number of Anglicans have gathered for the service tomorrow. Our three archbishops are here, as are a few of our diocesan bishops as well as Archbishop Philip Freier from Melbourne representing the Australian church. I noticed a fairly good contingent of Baptist clergy, and there will be representation from most of the other major denominations. As I write this the sound of rain on the roof is loud and constant. I understand the locals have laid on umbrellas for us.

I could have got to London more quickly than it took to get to Waitangi. Never before have I travelled so far to come to church but I sat at dinner tonight talking to Joy Freier, wife of Archbishop Philip, who has actually come further. The conversation was about the declining strength of the Anglican church in parts of Australia and New Zealand, about the ceaseless interest in and depth of experience of spiritual things in the general community and about the disconnect between these phenomena. At Oihi Bay our nation first began to form itself and that formation had its base in the Christian Gospel. I thought of the struggle of those three little families perched in their tiny white cottages above the swamp, struggling daily to reconcile their own assumed culture, Tikanga Maori, and the faith which had led (or driven?) them across the globe. I thought of how they had succeeded and of how they had so spectacularly failed. With all the vast changes wrought by two centuries, still the issues remain, and responsibility for them, at least in one tiny corner of the vineyard, has been passed to me. Perhaps that's why I'm here, where it all began.


NIE said…
AMEN to that! We are so glad you with your special staff Te Harinui held by so many on the hikoi down here have made such a huge effort to travel all that way on our behalf.
Maybe the bay will be bathed in sun at the right time tomorrow? God bless you all up there.
(and may you all sleep well this night xxx)
Elaine Dent said…
I now know what kauris are!