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Jubilant day for the Maori Church

Media advisory
May 9

Jubilant day for the Maori Church

A joyful crowd of about 2000 thronged to Poho o Rawiri Marae in Gisborne on Saturday for the installation of the new Pihopa o Aotearoa, Bishop Brown Turei.

Bishop Brown, who has Ngati Porou and Whanau a Apanui whakapapa, is the fifth Pihopa o Aotearoa, and he now leads Tikanga Maori, the Maori face of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Many from throughout the motu – as well as a full contingent of Anglican Bishops from throughout New Zealand and Polynesia – gathered at historic marae for the installation.

The ceremony kicked off at 8.30am with a powhiri. Hundreds gathered on the marae atea, to hear Maori language speakers from nga hau e wha, the far-flung tribal regions of the country, bring their greetings.

The installation service began at 10.00am – and it was by turns moving, serious and spiced with moments of exuberance and high good humour. Such as when, before the bishops processed into the wharenui, kuia spontaneously began to waltz in the aisles to the hymns and choruses.

The Archbishop of New Zealand (and outgoing Pihopa o Aotearoa) Most Rev Whakahuihui Vercoe, led the formal, liturgical part of the service.

And the former Primate, and present Bishop of Auckland, Rt. Rev. John Paterson, gave the sermon.

Speaking in te reo and English, he welcomed Bishop Turei as the new Pihopa o Aotearoa, and observed that he had long been respected as a gentle and humble leader.

Now the moment had come, said Bishop Paterson, for Bishop Turei to grasp the challenge of leading the Maori Church – and of being a strong partner to the Pakeha and Polynesian arms of the church:

"Kia kaha, Brown: korero tia," he urged. "Be strong, Brown: Let your voice be heard."

As if to underline the Church's eagerness to hear from Bishop Brown, among the various gifts he received at the end of the installation were two tokotoko, or Maori talking sticks.

Another highlight came when Sir Henare Ngata, one of the most revered figures in the Ngati Porou world, and the son of Sir Apirana Ngata, draped Bishop Turei's shoulders with a kiwi-feather korowai.

With the installation complete, and embraces exchanged, the huge gathering moved to the wharekai and marquees for the hakari, or feast.

And that's when the entertainment really kicked in, with contributions from a host of cultural groups.

One of the standout features of the celebrations was the way folk of all ages took part.

A large contingent of boys from Te Aute College were on hand – and a big ope from Hukarere Girls School surrounded the walls of the wharekai, and entertained diners with waiata and poi dances.

They were acknowledging Bishop Turei's contribution to the college, as chaplain, over many years.

Among the dignitaries gathered for the installation were the Minister of Maori Affairs, Parekura Horomia; the leader of the Ngati Porou Runanga, Api Mahuika – and Bishop Brown's brother, the distinguished Maori Battalion C Company soldier, John Waititi.

ends

Note to editors:

1) The Anglican Church in these islands has, since 1990, had three equal and autonomous strands – Tikanga Maori, Tikanga Pakeha, and Tikanga Polynesia. The installation of Bishop Turei concerns the leadership of Tikanga Maori.

2) A bishop is first of all "ordained" – which happened, in Bishop Turei's case, in 1992. He (or she) is then "installed" in a particular diocese, or region. And if that bishop is later chosen for a substantial new role, he (or she) is then "installed" into the new task.

3) The Runanganui, or electoral college, at which Bishop Turei was chosen as the next Pihopa o Aotearoa, met on February 12 at Turangawaewae. It was preceded by a day long Hui-a-Iwi, in which Maori from throughout the motu, regardless of their beliefs, were invited to speak about what they wanted in a Pihopa o Aotearoa. Sometimes, te Pihopa speaks for all Maori.

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