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

3Tikanga youth reconnect

Young people from across the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have enjoyed reconnecting in worship, work and talanoa at Tikanga Youth Exchange and Tikanga Youth Synod after a long break from in-person events.

Taonga News | Photos: Trevor Whippy | Lorna Gray | Finlay Clarke-Wallace  |  10 Apr 2024  |

More than 80 young Anglicans gathered in December 2023 in Fiji and in Tamaki makaurau in February 2024, for the first in-person Tikanga Youth Exchange(TYE) and Tikanga Youth Synod(TYS) hui since 2019.

Anglicans from Tikanga Māori, Polynesia and Pākehā churches met to study, share youth ministry experiences, witness to their faith and dig deep into questions of the Spirit with church leaders and their peers from across the motu.

Tikanga Toru Youth commissioner Rev Chaans Tumataroa-Clarke reports that TYE focused on “developing youth leadership, stewardship and fellowship” and late last year had the benefit of being in Fiji which meant many local Pasifika youth could also take part.

The TYE opened with a Eucharist at Holy Trinity Cathedral Suva led by Dean Orisi Vuki, with preacher Bishop Henry Bull, before young Anglicans headed to the Moana Anglican Studies and Training Centre (MAST) for a welcome from Archbishop Sione Uluilakepa and an introduction to MAST by Archbishop Emeritus Winston Halapua.

A key feature of TYE was the invitation to ‘talanoa’, extended as part of the cultural welcome offered by the Lotu Youth Mission Community in Fiji. They explained how talanoa makes a place for young and old to take part in conversations in a space of active, non-judgemental listening and storytelling.

“To be told what talanoa means, and to be part of it, is a totally different experience,”

said Rev Chaans. Young people were invited to sit and talk with one another and church leaders including Dean Orisi and Archbishop Sione Uluilakepa. 

“The real talanoa around the tanoa is not a discussion or wānanga, it is different: everyone has their say, long silences can happen as everyone reflects, it is formal but relaxed, and it brings the people and the leaders together.” 

Tikanga Youth Exchange continued with workshops for young people to catch up on CIVA training for disaster preparedness, climate justice theology, learning to identify human trafficking, and promoting and supporting youth church leadership. 

A highlight for Te Tairāwhiti participant Jhaymeān Terekia was Archdeacon Sepiuta Hala’api’api’s talk on navigating leadership as a young woman in the church, looking from her perspective as Diocesan Registrar and Deputy Moderator of the Pacific Council of Churches. But Jhaymeān also thought some of the best conversation happened catching up between sessions, 

“Sepi told us about their work drawing young people away from the drinking scene, and how they brought in talanoa sessions to make a safe space to hang out.” 

Bolivia Smith from All Saints’ Apia in Samoa particularly enjoyed the workshop led by  Rev Ruawhaitiri Ngatai-Mahue from Te Rau College, which encouraged participants to consider how they can use performing arts in youth ministry.

“For me the most interesting session was the Creative Ministry workshop which fit perfectly with young people and how we are always trying to explore new ways to worship & to serve God through youth ministry.”


“It was about creating ways or platforms where we as young people can come together as one, and speak the same language through music, dancing and art.”

Another highlight for Jhaymeān were the TYE visits in groups of 6-8 going out to join with local Sunday congregations in Fiji.

“It was great to take in the different worshipping cultures across the Tikanga and to be with Tikanga Polynesia worshipping at home, in their languages – seeing the band, the singers, and lots of kids and young people taking part – something to aspire to in our tikanga.”

Youth from across the motu also visited the children of St Christopher’s Home and Moana St Clare Boys’ Home to share dance and song and deliver some back packs and other goodies for the start of the school year.

This year in February youth delegates from across the tikanga met again, this time switching into parliamentary mode for Tikanga Youth Synod in Auckland, hosted by Tikanga Pākehā Youth and their National Facilitator Lorna Gray. 

In Auckland the (how many?) delegates worked to voice their concerns and priorities as young people in the Anglican Church, via motions passed by the Tikanga Youth Synod business sessions.

Various motions dealt with pay equity across the Church particularly looking at the impact of pay disparity for ministry in the Pacific Islands, funding and organisational support for young people’s work in disaster preparedness (CIVA training), staff support for the Lotu Youth Mission Community, proactive church engagement on global peace and justice issues, and a motion on Christians taking responsibility to understand and take action on the Treaty of Waitangi.

Motions raised at Tikanga Youth Synod will be refined and brought to General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui in May this year.