Prayers, waiata, whaikorero, tears, and occasional laughter filled Holy Sepulchre Church on the first evening of the tangi for the Ven Dr Hone Kaa.
He died in Auckland Hospital on Thursday night following a short battle with cancer. He was 70.
At the foot of the sanctuary steps family gathered round Hone as his ministry, and the man, were remembered in the church to which he introduced experimental liturgy and new waiata.
The Rt Rev Kito Pikaahu, Bishop of Tai Tokerau, acknowledged the contribution the Kaa family has made to the Anglican Church with a long lineage of priests. He also spoke of the skills Hone brought as a liturgist to worship in the place he now lay to be farewelled.
Gathered in the church to support the Kaa whanau were past and present colleagues in ministry with Hone.
Students he had mentored led the service of Evening Prayer. They recalled a shepherd who had left a legacy for others to follow with the starting premise that all are made in the image of God.
Earlier that day, a contingent of Auckland priests had been welcomed to Holy Sepulchre as they recognised Hone's contribution to the diocese.
A Requiem Mass will be held at Holy Sepulchre at 5pm on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning his body will be taken to Hinepare Marae at Rangitukia, East Cape.
Hone will be buried at Okaroro urupa following his funeral on Tuesday.
Church leaders' tributes
The Most Rev Brown Turei says there is a great deal to give thanks for in terms of the ministry that Hone offered to church and society.
Archbishop Brown also acknowledges the skills in liturgy that Hone brought to the church, and describes Hone as a radical who raised the issues and challenged the church and Maoridom.
He has asked for the Province to remember the Kaa whanau in prayer and to give thanks for Hone’s ministry.
The Rt. Rev John Bluck, former Bishop of Waiapu, was an ordinand with Hone in 1961 for the Waiapu Diocese. Bishop John says Hone lived in turbulence as fish live in water.
The last book he helped John Bluck to name is entitled ‘Wai Karekare, Turbulent Waters’, and tells the story of the Anglican struggle to be a bicultural church.
Bishop John says: ”Hone lived his life as a lightning rod and a shock absorber for the tensions and contradictions of our bicultural society. He saw his vocation as a priest to live in the middle of this energy that is chaotic as often as it is creative.”
Over 50 years Hone Kaa had an extensive career including parish ministry, broadcasting, local and international activism, teaching and child advocacy. Bishop John says this career wove around his life as a priest nurturing the faith of local congregations around Auckland and further north.
“Hone responded to every challenge and gave of himself, often to the point of exhaustion. He was often outraged and angry with the injustice he saw. But just as often he was gracious and very funny,” says Bishop John.
In spite of deteriorating health, Hone attended the recent High Court trial of the 'Urewera Four' to show his on-going commitment to social justice.