A General Synod commission will look into ways that the Pakeha dioceses can share people, material and financial resources with their Maori partners.
This move comes after a tense day that saw Tikanga Pakeha caucusing several times to consider how best to respond to a motion on partnership, brought by Bishop John Gray (Waipounamu).
In fact, there were two motions. The first, covering a wide range of partnership issues, was replaced at the last minute by a shorter, more direct request for a commission to inquire into diocesan resourcing for the Maori church.
This second motion also catalogued the financial assistance Maori had received since being admitted to General Synod in 1978.
Bishop John began by emphasising that the motion was not scaremongering. “We want an open dialogue,” he said. “(The motion) is about our accountability to each other.
“We come to rejoice in 30 years of ministry,” he added, before inviting the Ven Hirini Kaa to recap on the story of that ministry.
Archdeacon Kaa then elaborated on the Maori church’s history, stretching from the 1880s to the present. There’s plenty to celebrate, he said, but precious few resources.
Today the Maori church has 38 rohe (ministry units) but only five stipendiary clergy, with three fulltime. Each rohe has on average four worship centres.
“We’re heavily reliant on volunteers,” Archdeacon Kaa said. “We’re structured as a rural church, but living in an urban context…
“We’re asking for 12 stipendiary positions. Under-capitalised and under-resourced, we’re still the spiritual backbone of Maoridom.”
Bishop Gray then introduced his second motion, prompting an immediate caucus by Pakeha.
Returning later, Tikanga Pakeha’s spokesman, Bishop Philip Richardson (Taranaki), said Pakeha welcomed the request for a commission and was seeking an honest, robust conversation on resourcing.
“We appreciate the focus of the motion and don’t want to amend it,” he said. “But there are questions of detail we need to ask.
“We need to be utterly transparent with each other… And we need to listen.”
He then suggested the formation of a working party to look at terms of reference for the resource commission.
“This needs to be a broad and deep discussion of the shared mission we have in Aotearoa New Zealand.”
Pakeha concluded their caucus response to the motion by singing “Glory to God.”
Pasefika in solidarity
Just as Synod was preparing to vote on the motion, Bishop Apimeleki Qiliho (Pasefika) stood to offer his tikanga’s solidarity with both Maori and Pakeha.
“We assure you of our prayers for this journey,” he said humbly. “Our hearts are with you. Physically, we are also part of you.”
The Rev Jack Papuni (Tairawhiti) expressed gratitude for Pakeha’s willingness to endorse the motion. “It’s a big step,” he said.
He noted that while Synod talked a great deal about tikanga in a cultural sense, there was also a church tikanga to embrace – a tikanga based on Christian values.
“I hope our respect for each other will flourish from here,” he said, adding that his main worry was that the motion before Synod referred only to financial resources.
“My grandfather said everything comes from the heart. So let’s also talk about people resources.”
The motion was amended accordingly, before being passed unanimously.
Terms of Reference For Resource Sharing Commission
• That any response from Tikanga Pakeha can only be made from individual Dioceses, and
• That such response may require synodical approval in any case, and
• That within Tikanga Pakeha almost all stipended positions are funded with parish contributions on an ongoing basis
The Commission shall consider ways in which each Diocese can be encouraged to further share resources to assist Tikanga Maori in its financial and other needs.
In particular, but without limiting the Commission, the Commission shall consider and report on
1. The resources required for Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa to appoint 12 more stipendiary priests.
2. The current arrangements and relationships between Dioceses and Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa and suggest what might help in the development of ongoing resource sharing arrangements.
3. Ways in which Dioceses can review the sharing of skills, reo, culture, materials and other resources, which are not necessarily money
4. Whether those Dioceses which have already in conjunction with their Tikanga partners, shared trust and other assets in a manner agreed between them ought to be asked to revisit that process
5. Whether those Dioceses which have not yet completed a sharing of trust and other assets might be asked to increase the speed of that process.
The first report of the Commission shall be to the Standing Committee of General Synod/ te Hinota Whanui by 31 December 2010.
Bishop John Gray
Ven Don Rangi
Rev Jack Papuni
Mr Don Shaw
Mr Bardia Matiu
Bishop Victoria Matthews
Mr Ian Pask
Mr Graham Miller
Mr Lyndon Rogers
Rev Brian Dawson
Tikanga Pasefika Observers
Bishop Winston Halapua
Bishop Gabriel Sharma