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Maori momentum growing against Anglican Covenant

Breaking news (thanks to Rev. Ngira Simmonds) on the Eve of Pentecost the second Episcopal Unit (cf. diocese) in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has rejected the Anglican Covenant:


Saturday 11 June 2011

Motion concerning the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant


That for the purposes of providing feedback to Te Hinota Whanui (General Synod) and Te Runanganui o Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tairawhiti wishes to express the following:

■We have carefully considered the text of The Anglican Communion Covenant, and what we know of the context in which it was proposed;

■In terms of our shared Mihingare and Anglican heritage, our call to communion, and our call to ministry and mission, the Covenant offers us nothing new or more compelling than the Spiritual Covenant that we already have with each other through faith in Jesus Christ;

■We see that Section Four of The Anglican Communion Covenant propose measures of compliance and discipline – including “relational consequences” and being declared “incompatible with the Covenant” – that go against our Gospel imperative to “love one another” (John 13:34-35).

We note that our sister Amorangi, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o Te Wheke, has stated its opposition to The Anglican Communion Covenant because:

■It is a threat to the rangatiratanga of the Tangata Whenua;

■It does not reflect our understanding of being Anglican in these Islands; and

■We should instead focus on the restoration of justice for Tangata Whenua under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

We agree with Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o Te Wheke, and choose here to stand in solidarity with them.

For the reasons expressed above, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tairawhiti states that it is opposed to the adoption of The Anglican Communion Covenant.

MOVED: Rev Don Tamihere SECONDED: Rev Connie Tuheke-Ferris


Mihingare = missionary; mission

Since 1992, the Constitution of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia provides for three Tikanga (cultural streams) partners to order their affairs within their own cultural context: Tikanga Maori (the indigenous people of Aotearoa-New Zealand); Tikanga Pakeha (those here by virtue of te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi); Tikanga Pasefika (encompassing the episcopal units of Polynesia in New Zealand, Vanua Levu and Taveuni, and Viti Levu West, and the Archdeaconries of Suva and Ovalau, Samoa and American Samoa, and Tonga).

When significant decisions are made at te Hinota Whanui/General Synod, as with other Anglican Provinces, there must be agreement across all houses – here those are the house of bishops, clergy, and laity. There must also be agreement across all Tikanga. In other words, even if Tikanga Pakeha and Tikanga Pasefica are in majority agreement in favour of the Covenant, if Tikanga Maori votes against the Covenant, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia would be saying no to the Covenant.

There are five Hui Amorangi in Aotearoa. They are: Te Pihopatanga o Te Tai Tokerau, Te Pihopatanga o Te Manawa o te Wheke, Te Pihopatanga o Te Tairawhiti, Te Pihopatanga o Te Upoko o te Ika, and Te Pihopatanga o Te Waipounamu.

Tangata Whenua means the people of the land, the indigenous people of Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi is the founding document of our nation. It was signed in 1840.

Rangatiratanga is a very important concept. It is a word that occurs twice in the Lord’s Prayer, where the English version has “kingdom”. It is an important word in te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi. In the second article of te Tiriti rangatiratanga (chieftainship) is retained by the Maori chiefs.

I think it is not unfair to say that Maori have considerable experience and energy around the concept of signing a document which has the sense of a sacred covenant, and the use and abuse of such a document, the issues that arise through the differing understandings and misunderstandings of texts, the use and abuse of power, and the differing motivations of people who sign up to such a document and urge people to sign.

This motion enlarges that by Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o te Wheke and includes reference to “what we know of the context in which [the Anglican Covenant] was proposed”, that what God has given us is sufficient for our unity, and that section 4 goes against the Gospel.

All this, I think, I hope, helps to understand some of what is in and lies underneath the motion passed.

Although communication within our province is poor, I hope that Tikanga Maori will know that many, many pakeha stand with them in opposition to the Anglican Covenant. Pakeha need to hear the Maori challenge to show the same energy to bringing justice that is being invested in this current discussion. Many pakeha have been concerned that come the meeting of Te Hinota Whanui (General Synod) Maori may be placed under pressure to conform to the pro-covenant wishes of pakeha bishops, but the gathering strength of the voice of the Tangata Whenua may mean the hope of their holding to rangatiratanga.

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9 thoughts on “Maori momentum growing against Anglican Covenant”

  1. Thanks, indeed, to Te Tairawhiti for their response to the proposed Covenant relationship within the Anglican Communion.We Pakeha who work alongside our Maori sisters and brothers in the faith are not at ease with any so-called Covenant that threatens to exclude the North american members of our world-wide Anglican family. On this Day of Pentecost, I pray for God’s life-giving Holy Spirit to draw us closer to one another in Christ. Kia Ora!

  2. Kia Ora Bosco,

    As one of the people who spoke in favour of the motion at the Manawa o Te Wheke Hui Amorangi I am hugely encouraged by this motion and its passing. I also think it is worth noting that the Diocesan of Tairawhiti is one of our sitting Archbishops, ++Brown Turei.

    I am especially encouraged by your last paragraph in regards to the many Pakeha who stand with Tikanga Maori. It is my real fear that come General Synod it will be left to Tikanga Maori to oppose the covenant alone. I know there are Pakeha who oppose the Covenant, perhaps even whole diocese who oppose it, I just hope that when the time comes, those people stand with us publicly.

    Naku iti nei,

    Christopher Huriwai.

  3. Peter Carrell

    I demur from your own comment here, Bosco, in one respect: I just do not see Tikanga Maori falling in line re the Covenant because some Pakeha bishops are pro-Covenant. I think the robustness of General Synod re working together knowing that a veto can be exercised means that we can be confident that General Synod will not force/pressure any tikanga.

    Of course there will be a debate, no doubt breaking into separate caucuses and then returning to plenary session and continuing in debate. Who knows what compromise resolution might be reached. The signs are there that ‘adopt’ will not be in the final resolution … but there might be something else that keeps us open to the Covenant, especially if it was becoming clear by May that non-adopters were in a minority in the Communion.

    As a pro-Covenant bloke I ‘hear’ loud and clear where Tikanga Maori is heading! Thank you for the post.

    1. I am sure, Peter, that Christopher Huriwai who commented previously in this thread, would be encouraged by your point. I also think there is a difference between my comment expressing the fact of the comments I hear of pakeha concern that “Maori may be placed under pressure” and your own reworking of that into giving the impression that I suggest there may be a “Tikanga Maori falling in line”. Also, let us not pretend that our synodical processes are beyond pressure and politicking. Even the leaks of the Archbishop of Canterbury (pun intended) show that the beloved focus of Anglican unity and greatest advocate of the Anglican Covenant is not beyond “pressure and politicking” (polite version) in meetings.

  4. I am delighted , thrilled and humbled to read this.I do not recognise Section 4 as in any way compatible with Anglicanism either

  5. I am so glad to read this. I fled the unjust Diocese of Sydney to the Diocese of Dunedin where there is more loving acceptance. However I find people here do not understand the dangers of the proposed covenant. It seems that the Maori Tikanga do. I pray there view will succeed so that people like me be able to continue to feel at home in the Anglican church within New Zealand.

    1. Brian, I think the lack of interest and understanding about the Covenant is widespread. There is a positive side to this: many are just getting on with living Christian lives while others are concerned about the straining out of the gnats.

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