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

Hīnota widens Melanesia study fund

General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui has broadened the possibilities for students from the Church of Melanesia to study with the support of a St John’s College Trust Board scholarship.

Julanne Clarke-Morris  |  03 Nov 2022  |

General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui has moved to widen the funding parameters of St John’s College Trust Board scholarships for students of theology from the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

This move comes in response to advice from Archbishop of Melanesia Leonard Dawea and General Secretary Dr Abraham Hauriasi, who have noted that in recent years the Church of Melanesia has not been able to utilise the four scholarships offered for students to study on site at St John’s College in Auckland.

The primary reason for this, they have shared, is that while the Auckland-based accommodation is provided and fees paid for, the scholarship funding does not cover essential expenses for students’ families such as living expenses, travel or international school fees for students’ children.

This has meant that in recent years, only one or two senior students from Melanesia per year have been able to take time out to study under the Auckland-based scholarships, supported by the Church of Melanesia, and usually for doctoral studies.

Rev Canon Isaac Beach moved the motion on behalf of the 2020-2022 General Synod Standing Committee, to broaden the scope for students from the Church of Melanesia to study theology in different parts of the Pacific under a St John’s College scholarship.

During the Synod debate, Archdeacon Mere Wallace supported the motion and asked Synod to consider the practical value of supporting Church of Melanesia students to study closer to home. 

“When we think about it we know that people need to be with their whānau, for good mental health and good study. People should be able to study as close to home as they can.” 

Last week’s motion will change the Standing Resolution covering the scholarships to enable students to study at any approved Theological College within Polynesia or Aotearoa New Zealand, including but not limited to: Pacific Theological College, St John’s Theological College Suva, Otago University Theology and Religious Studies, Te Rau College or Bishopdale.

Mover of the motion Isaac Beach pointed out that freeing the funds will allow for more flexibility as to who benefits from the same scholarships. 

“This change will mean that instead of one or maybe two students a year gaining benefit from these scholarships, we could have 4-6 students undertaking theological studies, at any level and in different places.”

Grant Hope from the St John’s College Trust Board said that while Melanesia will likely still choose to send some students to Suva or Aotearoa New Zealand for higher study on these scholarships, the fund may now also be used to train larger numbers of clergy at undergraduate level.

In his final speech to the motion, Canon Isaac Beach suggested that the next move might be for Te Hīnota to consider raising the Church of Melanesia scholarship funding up to match the level of support made available to students of theology in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia. 

“If we want to retain the value to this Church of having Church of Melanesia students studying alongside our students, then maybe we should look at including travel and living costs in these scholarships in future.” He said.

Motion 7 has now passed the following amendment to Standing Resolution SJ 3 on scholarships to study at St John’s College in Auckland,

“should these scholarships not be taken up by the Anglican Church of Melanesia, to provide scholarships of equal value to allow study at other tertiary institutions within the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia...”