Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Archbishop Don's charge

Here's the unedited text of Archbishop Don Tamihere's charge to the General Synod.

Archbishop Don Tamihere  |  07 May 2018






Te Reo o Te Hēpara Pono


He pono, he pono tāku e mea nei ki a koutou: Ki te kāhore tētahi e tomo rā te kūwaha ki te kainga hipi, ki te piki kē, he tāhae ia, he tangata pāhua.


Tēnā ko te tangata e tomo ana rā te kūwaha, ko te hepara pono ia o ngā hipi. Ka uaki te kaitiaki tatau ki a ia; ka rongo anō ngā hipi ki tōna reo: na ka karangatia e ia āna hipi ake, tō tēnei ingoa, tō tēnei ingoa, ka arahina ki waho.


A ka oti āna ake hipi te tuku ki waho, ka haere ia i mua i a rātou, ka aru ngā hipi i a ia no te mea e mātau ana hoki rātou ki tōna reo. E kore ia rātou e aru i te tauhou, engari ka oma i a ia: e kore hoki e mātau ki te reo o ngā tauhou.


Hoani 10:1-5


The Voice of The True Shepherd


“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit.


The one who enters by the gate is the true shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.


When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and they follow because they know the shepherd’s voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”


John 10:1-5








E aku nui, e aku rahi, e aku whakatamarahi ki te rangi, tēnā koutou katoa e hika mā i runga i te Ingoa Tapu a tō tātou Ariki a Ihu Karaiti. Tēnā hoki tātou i o tātou mate huhua. Ngā mate o tēnā marae, o tēnā rohe, o tēnā iwi, haere, haere, haere. Kei te maumahara tonu ki tō tātou Ātipīhopa a Paraone Tūrei, mōna kua wehea nei ki te pō. He tino hēpara ia i tōna wā, he hēpara pono, he hēpara rangimārie. I aru āna hipi i a ia nō te mea i mātau rātou ki tōna ake reo – he reo ngāwari, he reo hūmārie, he reo pūpuri ki ngā ahureinga o te aroha. Nō reira, tuia rātou ko te tai pō ki te tai pō, tuia tātou o rātou waihotanga nei ki a tātou, hei reo whakarau oranga ki te ao mārama.


Te Reo o Te Hēpara Pono | The Voice of The True Shepherd


... and they follow because they know the shepherd’s voice.”


God loves shepherds. There can be no doubt. We can see it all throughout the Bible. You might even say that God prefers shepherds, especially when it comes to leading his people.


Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, we like to think we know a thing or two about shepherds. We like to think that their best qualities are the ones we all share: They are practical and given to common sense. They are fair-minded. Hard-working. Down-to-earth. Never suffer fools gladly. They help when help is needed.


Good attributes. Biblical, even.


Fleecing sheep? Slaughtering sheep? Are these good attributes too?


On the farm, yes. In the church, no. Hopefully that’s not a new revelation for any of you.


What might be a revelation to you is that many of the Shepherds of the Bible shared another attribute.


Consider Abraham, the son of Terah, from the city of Ur in the Chaldees.[i]


Regarding Abraham, God said:


“For I know him. He will teach his children and his household to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and righteousness, so that all that the Lord has promised will come to pass.” [ii]


When God informed Abraham that he was about to destroy a city because of its grievous sin, Abraham questioned him: [iii]


“Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to destroy the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you!


“Will not the Great Judge of the Universe act justly, and do justice?


This was the voice of Abraham. This was the voice of a Shepherd.


Consider Moses, the youngest child of Amram and Jocheved.  God called him to lead the people of Israel out of captivity and into a new promise.  But God did not call Moses when he was a still a mighty prince in Egypt. God called Moses much later, when he had become a shepherd in the hills of Midian. It was there that God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush, and gave him the courage to confront the injustice of old Pharoah and say “Let my people go!”


In his final hours, Moses sang of God: [iv]


“He is the Rock, His works are perfect; For all His ways are justice; He is a God of truth and without injustice; Just and righteous is He.”


This was the voice of Moses. This was the voice of a Shepherd.


Consider David, the youngest son of Jesse, who was in turn the grandson of Boaz and Ruth. When God sought a new King for Israel, he sent the prophet Samuel to choose from among Jesse’s sons.


God said to Samuel:


“Do not look upon his appearance or his physical stature, because I have refused these things. For the Lord does not look as a man looks, or sees as a man sees; for they look upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” [v]


And so Samuel did not choose Eliav, or Abinadav, or Shimea, or Nathaniel, or Radai, or Ozem. Instead, Samuel was led by God to choose the youngest son of Jesse, the shepherd boy, the one they called David.


Regarding David, God said:


“I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” [vi]


Samuel later writes that “... David reigned over all Israel, and administered justice and righteousness for all people.” [vii] David was not perfect by any means, but he knew the heart of God, and he knew how to be a shepherd for the people. It was David who sang:


“For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth. He loves justice and righteousness; The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. [viii]


“The Lord reigns; Let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad! Clouds and darkness surround Him; Justice and righteousness are the foundation of His throne. A fire goes before Him, And burns up His enemies round about. [ix]


“Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can declare all His praise? Blessed are those who keep justice, and he who does righteousness at all times! [x]


This was the voice of David. This was the voice of a Shepherd.


There’s someone else we can consider. He was from a place called Tekoa. Though the Bible calls him a prophet, he said of himself “I was not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I took care of fig trees.” [xi] His name was Amos.


It was Amos who said:


This is what the Lord says:


“There are those of you who turn justice into bitterness

and cast righteousness to the ground. [xii]


There are those of you who hate the ones who uphold justice,

and detest the ones who tell the truth. [xiii]


I hate your hypocrisy, I despise the empty theatre of your religious festivals;

your gatherings are nothing but a stench to me.

Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,

I will not accept them.

Though you bring your choicest offerings,

I will have no regard for them.

 Away with your noise and your songs!

I will not listen to the music of your harps.

But instead, let justice roll like a river,

and righteousness like an everlasting stream! [xiv]


Let justice roll like a river, and righteousness like an everlasting stream.


This was the voice of Amos. This was the voice of a Shepherd.


Abraham. Moses. David. Amos. Each a Shepherd. Each using their voice to cry out for justice and righteousness.


So what can be said about us, delegates to this 63rd session of the General Synod of The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia?


What kind of Shepherds are we?


What is the cry of our voice?

Imagine if we posed these questions to those who know us the most – the flock for which we are meant to care. I wonder, would they describe us in the way that David described his Shepherd?


The General Synod is my shepherd; I shall not want.

They help me to lie down in green pastures;

They lead me beside the still waters.

They restore my soul;

They lead me in the paths of righteousness

for His name’s sake.


Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil;

For General Synod is with me;

Their rod and their staff, they comfort me.


General Synod prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

They anoint my head with oil;

My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord,



Would the flock of our fellow-believers ever describe us this way? Would you describe yourself this way?


There’s a lesson there, if we’re willing to hear it.


What kind of Shepherds are we?


What is the cry of our voice?


Justice and righteousness. Justice and righteousness. This was the cry of the Shepherds in the Bible. A cry that revealed the magnitude of their care. Their compassion. Their sense of urgency. Their knowledge of the heart of God.


What will the cry of our voice be? Will we echo the voice of the Shepherds of old?


“Let justice roll like a river, and righteousness like an everlasting stream.”


This week we will be discussing important kaupapa with wide-reaching implications for our people.


What will the voice of General Synod be when we discuss motions on Youth Representation and Shareable Resources?


If you close your eyes, and listen for the voice of ancient Shepherds past, you can hear them say:


“Let justice roll like a river, and righteousness like an everlasting stream.”


What will our voice be when we discuss motions Disability Responsiveness in the Church and Fossil Fuel Divestment?


“Let justice roll like a river, and righteousness like an everlasting stream.”


What will our voice be when we discuss Climate Change – an issue that is real, urgent, and holds massive ramifications for our Church here in these islands, here in Te Moananui a Kiwa?


“Let justice roll like a river, and righteousness like an everlasting stream.”


What will our voice be when we discuss Motion 29? What will we be saying to the whole people of our flock, to our takatāpuhi whānau, and to the world?


“Let justice roll like a river, and righteousness like an everlasting stream.”


What will we be saying to people, to whānau, iwi, and hāhi who have been hurt and wronged by the Anglican Church? Are we humble enough to admit our wrongs, confess our own sins, seek forgiveness and make amends?


“Let justice roll like a river, and righteousness like an everlasting stream.”


Are we able to address our own hypocrisy, our own structural injustices, our own bigotry and prejudice?


If you close your eyes, and listen for the voice of an old Māori Shepherd, one who stood near the waters of Waitangi, before the Queen of England and the leaders of this land, you can still hear him say:


“You have marginalised us. You have not honoured the Treaty.”


We must do all that we can to be a people of justice and righteousness. No longer should we tolerate the presence of injustice, gross inequity and unrighteousness in our midst.


We must do all that we can to become a powerful, effective, and irresistable voice for justice, speaking out for our people who are on the margins, for the poor and oppressed.


What is the voice of the General Synod when it comes to the pressing issues of our time – real issues like Child Poverty, Domestic Violence, Suicide, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, and Homelessness. When will we be discussing these matters?


“Let justice roll like a river, and righteousness like an everlasting stream.”


There is one more Shepherd that we should listen to. One who we should listen to above all others. A Good Shepherd. A True Shepherd. It was this Shepherd who said:


“You should love the Lord your God with all your heart,

all your soul, and all your strength. [xv]


“You should love your neighbour as you love yourself. [xvi]


“You should love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you. [xvii]


“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. [xviii]
















[i] See Genesis 11:27ff

[ii] Genesis 18:19

[iii] Genesis 18:23-25

[iv] Deuteronomy 32:4

[v] 1 Samuel 16:7

[vi] Acts 13:22b

[vii] 2 Samuel 8:15

[viii] Psalm 33:4-5

[ix] Psalm 97:1-3

[x] Psalm 106:2-3

[xi] Amos 7:14

[xii] Amos 5:7

[xiii] Amos 5:10

[xiv] Amos 5:21-24

[xv] Matthew 22:36-40

[xvi] Mark 12:31

[xvii] Matthew 5:43-48

[xviii] John 3:34-35