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

It takes us all to end violence

Anglicans from across the three Tikanga reflect on the basis of their ministry with children and families.

J.Murphy / B.Reed / D. Langdon  |  29 Aug 2018

The Anglican province in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia believe that we have a responsibility to actively promote for the welfare of all children, young people and vulnerable adults, and to keep them safe. We are committed to ensuring they are protected from all forms of abuse.

The Church is called by God to love, to stand alongside and advocate for those at the margins, those less powerful, and those without a voice in our society.

With ever increasing technology members of our households are withdrawing more from the day-to-day interactions of a safe family environment, essential to gauging the psychological, spiritual, and physical health of our children.

Children should not have to grow and develop in isolation. Parents, caregivers, and communities are the role models of God’s love, mercy and compassion in the immediate and extended family.

For some parents, campaigns have literally revved up with the rumble of Harley Davidsons, the Redeemed Motorcycle Ministry, riding into towns with a simple message, Operation SOS - Save our Sons, Stop our Suicides, Support our Sisters, Save our Souls.

This ecumenical campaign seeks to encourage men to ‘Man Up’ to the responsibilities of being better fathers, husbands and leaders in the home and in communities. Christian communities should be places where all people feel welcomed, respected and safe.

God Centred Families is the overarching goal for Moana Children’s Ministry.

The basis for keeping children safe is family and community. God is family (aiga, whānau), God is community (koro, iwi), God is love (alofa, aroha). Moana is the sea that encompasses the width, depth, vastness, fluid and borderless nature of the ocean that connects land masses, countries and geographical spaces in lively and forceful ways which adds mystery to its nature.

The many facets of Moana are evident in the connectedness of family relationships, kinship lines and cultural ties wherein the child is nurtured, provided for and protected. 

 The people of Oceania speak and tell stories (talanoa, kōrero) of God as Moana using metaphors and symbols that speak to us in our contexts.

It is in these settings where every person has infinite worth and unique value as a child of God, irrespective of origin, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, beliefs, social or economic status, ability to contribute, their past contribution to society, or present psychological, physical or spiritual state.

Christian values are reinforced in the Sunday school and Church family, the formal School family, the local community family and the wider world community family. 

We are to re-engage through regular contact with the grass-roots. Our churches ought to get alongside all families and get to know children well. By creating spaces for the whole family nucleus, we create environments that provides for the vital role in identifying, supporting, and overcoming those in abusive situations. 

Partnering with children, young people and their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting the welfare of all families. It really does take a whole village to bring up a child and likewise it takes a whole community to end violence against children. To end violence against children in this province means that we are to mobilise ourselves to go out to where they are.        

The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia has a number of organisations that have children and their whanau (a Maori word meaning extended family or community of related families who live together in the same area) as part of their outreach. Here are some examples:

The programmes of Anglican Action based in Hamilton, New Zealand, include the Kids First Whanau Centre, a residential programme offering women and children a place of safety, support and education, and Youth Justice, providing support, advocacy and mentoring for young people who have come into contact with the court system.

The Bishop’s Action Foundation works throughout Taranaki, New Zealand, researching, collaborating and supporting projects that help the community. These include parenting programmes aiming to give parents the skills they need to raise confident, healthy children and teenagers and to build stronger family relationships. 

The integrated Family, Early Education and Social Work services and programmes of the Anglican Trust for Women and Children help to protect, nurture and provide opportunities for up to 3,000 children, young people and their families across Auckland. 

House of Sarah in Fiji in the Diocese of Polynesia provides a Christian network of services to families, churches and communities to end violence and abuse against women and children. Its work includes a strong educational focus for the whole Pacific region.

Te Whare Ruruhau o Meri (TWRoM) is a charitable trust operating under the guidance of Te Pīhopatanga o Te Tai Tokerau, the northern branch of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa. Its community-based social services include youth work and domestic violence support to whānau. 

Contributors: Jacynthia Murphy, Operations Support Manager, General Synod Office, Tikanga Māori; Brenda Reed, Moana Children’s Ministry, Tikanga Polynesia; Diana Langdon, Strandz Enabler, Tikanga Pākehā.