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Maori vote against Covenant

It’s breaking news, not yet on our province’s news site, but Christopher Douglas-Huriwai reports on Facebook’s No Anglican Covenant that yesterday a motion rejecting the Anglican Covenant passed unanimously at Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o te Wheke, the first Episcopal Unit (cf. diocese) in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia to do so.

That Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o te Wheke, for the purpose of providing feedback to te Hinota Whanui/General Synod, states it’s opposition to the Anglican Covenant for the following reasons:

-After much consideration this Amorangi feels that the Anglican Covenant will threaten the rangatiratanga (self determination) of the Tangata Whenua (local people).

-We believe the Anglican Covenant does not reflect our understanding of being Anglican in these islands.

-We would like this church to focus on the restoration of justice to te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi which tangata whenua signed and currently do not have what they signed for.

There is already much discussion about this on the internet. I just want to add a few points which may help understanding the significance of this.

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

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15 thoughts on “Maori vote against Covenant”

    1. You are not at all being thick here, Malcolm! Te Pihopatanga (bishoprick) o Te Manawa o te Wheke is a geographic region with a bishop – so our Pakeha terminology of “diocese” seems not inappropriate. For the purposes, particularly of people outside our province, of understanding the significance of this motion, the point is that if Tikanga Maori says no to the Covenant – that’s no from our province. From outside it might look as if we have 13 dioceses (7 Pakeha, 5 Maori, 1 Pacific) and that one diocese voting no is not so significant. That would be a significant misunderstanding in the context of our Constitution. The vote and its explanation is far more significant than that. Is this making any sense?

  1. Christopher Douglas-Huriwai

    Hi Bosco,

    It was a pleasure for me to both be in attendance and speak in support of this motion at Manawa o te Wheke’s recent Hui Amorangi. This motion was moved by the Rev. Ngira Simmonds and seconded by the Rev. Beverly Moana Hall-Smith. Those who spoke to it included the Rev. Canon Robert Kereopa and myself. It is worth noting that both the mover of this motion and myself are under the age of 30 (we are 23.) This flies in the face of those who say young people are not concerned with the covenant, let alone the wider church.

    At the end of the day, the passing of this motion was about rangatiratanga and the loss of our rangatiratanga if the covenant is accepted. While speaking to the motion all of the speakers spoke of the pain and humiliation the Maori church has felt over the years. From te Pihopa o Aotearoa being denied permission to confirm some 28 Maori Battalion Soldiers in the diocese of Auckland, to the injustices that are still being felt across the church to this day. It was especially special to move this motion in the presence of Lady Doris Vercoe, as her husband, the late Whakahuihui Vercoe was also spoken about during the discussion on this motion.

    The korero around the motion was summed up by the bishop of Manawa o te Wheke, the Rt. Rev. Ngarahu Katene when he also spoke in support of this motion. He remarked, “I look around at you all and I see women with collars on, if this covenant was in force before we began ordaining women thaen none of you would be sitting here, or we would be being punished for having you.”

    I am sorry to write a novel on your page but I just wanted to give a little bit of background to the motion.

    1. Thank you, Christopher, I’m certainly appreciative of your explanation and clarification – so please write as much here as you need to clarify for people.

      For others: “korero” is te Reo (Maori language) for talk, discussion, or even meeting.

      I think your bishop is correct – because the introduction of the ordination of women is such a novelty (our bishop of Christchurch still cannot act as a bishop in the Church of England!), had this Covenant been earlier we would still be discussing this now. Also, there would be no Tikanga structure.

      What will be particularly interesting is if in England they realise they are handing over their own rangatiratanga to the Communion [somehow, surprisingly, I understand they’ve sidestepped (read, hoodwinked) their parliament having a say in this established church decision]. Even more interesting would be if the CofE votes against the Covenant, and the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot function within the “Covenanted Anglican Communion” 😉 The Anglican Church in Nigeria have already written Canterbury out of their Constitution!

      Christopher, do correct anything I have written which is confused, please. And, as my primary ministry is with young people, I certainly know that people (church included) have quite an incorrect understanding of where young people are at. Blessings.

  2. Hold that thought, I misread the news: its just one of five hui amorangi … the other four are bound to be in favour! 🙂

  3. So the Tikanga Paheka has seven dioceses, the Tikanga Maori has five what might be called dioceses and the Tikanga Pasefika has one what might be called a diocese.

    In addition to approval by the general Synod / Hinota Whanui, the Covenant would also need to be approved by four of seven Paheka dioceses, three of five Maori dioceses and the Pacific diocese.

    Am I close?

    1. Malcolm, in case Peter’s comment is confusing you, let’s just respond to that first:

      Peter writes, “the other four are bound to be in favour!” – we Kiwis have a saying about this: “Yeah right!”

      Now, Malcolm. As I understand it, if at te Hinota Whanui/General Synod 2012 there is a no vote about the Covenant – then that’s the end of it [hence Peter’s comment above]. However, (and here’s where the lawyers come in), if there’s a yes vote, our Constitution only recognises the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Covenant has a whole pile of different bodies which would require alteration to our Constitution. That requires larger proportions in each Tikanga at te Hinota Whanui/General Synod as well as all Tikanga, then a majority of all dioceses and Hui Amorangi, and back for confirmation by a newly elected te Hinota Whanui/General Synod. All this is above my pay grade, and some who are pro-Covenant may, as in England, argue for shortcuts, but that IMO is what lies before those who want to get the Covenant accepted by our province if they play fair, IMO.

  4. I would just like to pray peace for all brothers and sisters in your communities.

    As a Baptist, I live with longstanding obstacles to being in true and complete communion with the Anglican family. I hope you continue your journey with mutual respect and a depth of tradition.

    We all look forward to the day when the Lord’s “Rangatiratanga” is all we will know. Let us continue to pray for His kingdom to come on Earth and to move our hearts, minds and hands accordingly to bring that about.

  5. Hi Bosco, Malcolm and others,
    (1) Counting dioceses, hui amorangi at this stage is more about determining where the votes at General Synod 2012 might fall, including the possibility that one tikanga may veto the possibility of adopting the Covenant.
    (2) I have not yet asked the powers that be in our church whether their view is that ‘adopting the Covenant’ necessarily requires a change to the constitution or whether it requires a standing resolution. (I am sure the former would be better). If the former then (as Bosco says) the “twice round” process involves counting the dioceses, hui amorangi support is a definitive manner (though, of course, a vote this year could be changed between GS 2012 and GS 2014). If the latter then GS can do it alone.

  6. Mark Aitchison

    I think the first two reasons given for Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o te Wheke’s opposition to the Anglican Covenant particularly highlight some of the baggage the Covenant is carrying with it – or at least the layers of implications people see – that means it is too easy for many to find something they don’t like. Perhaps there would be less strife if the problem could be broken down into (say three) manageable questions:

    1. What defines being Anglican?

    2. What rules/regulations/creeds/power structures/articles of faith are needed beyond the Bible? (Are there more than 39 of them?? 🙂

    3. How do we resolve disagreements?

    Well, maybe “manageable” might be over-optimistic, since the answer to the first part may very well begin “A Christian who…” which is going to involve a lot to debate right there. This might be a good opportunity to reflect on so much that is taken for granted, if some should be abolished, and why some retained.

  7. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed

    As one indigenous to this land, I cannot but reach out to the brothers and sisters indigenous to your islands and feel both a kinship for them as the people of the land and also a respect for their feelings regarding the betrayal from covenants signed in the past.

    As a nation we were attacked by a neighboring nation with vastly superior forces who ultimately defeated us, occupied our capitol and forced us to sign a “treaty” which gave them half of the land which made up our nation.

    I am sure that there is great pain wrapped up in this decision.

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