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New Pihopa o Manawa o Te Wheke ordained

For immediate release October 16, 2006

New Pihopa o Manawa o Te Wheke ordained

Rahu Katene used to mend buses. Now, as the new Pihopa o Manawa o Te Wheke, he’s been commissioned by the Anglican Church to fix pastors and people.

At a moving service on Saturday at Papa-i-o-uru marae, on the shores of Lake Rotorua, the 65-year old former bus mechanic was ordained as the first elected Pihopa o Manawa o Te Wheke, the hui amorangi that serves the people of Tainui, Te Arawa and Mataatua in the Central North Island.

More than 800 gathered under a huge marquee on the marae atea of Tamatekapua, one of the most significant meeting houses in Te Arawa, for the consecration.

The local people, Ngati Whakaue, had graciously handed over their marae for the ceremony, knowing that the crowds of worshipers and wellwishers would be far too great to fit in the famous next-door church of St Faith’s.

The hui kicked off at 8.00am with a powhiri, and the consecration itself began at 10.30am. It was a dignified, serious occasion – but leavened, as Maori hui almost always are, with song, celebration and good humour: it was, commented one senior Maori vicar, “a lovely intertwining of the Anglican way of being Christian and taha Maori”.

Archbishop David Moxon preached the kauhau, or sermon, reminding his congregation of the great courage, tenacity and faithfulness of first Bishop of Aotearoa, Frederick Bennett. These were strengths, he said, that were given to Bishop Bennett because he had been so firmly anchored in Christ and reliant on Him – and those same gifts and resources were now given to Bishop Katene.

Te Pihopa o Aotearoa, Archbishop Brown Turei, then con-celebrated the eucharist with his Co-Presiding Bishops, Archbishops Jabez Bryce and Moxon.

At the end of the eucharist, a number of speakers from throughout nga hui amorangi and the diocese spontaneously rose to express their support for and give gifts to their new pihopa. With the ordination and eucharist complete, and embraces exchanged, the gathering moved to the wharekai and marquee for the hakari, or feast, and entertainment.

Ngarahu Katene, who has Te Arawa and Raukawa links, has come down an unusual road for a bishop.

For the first 35 years of his working life, he served in various regions of the country for New Zealand Railways Road Services. He also had a lifelong connection with the Hahi Mihinare, and in 1983 he was ordained a minita-a-iwi. For seven years after that, he’d knock off from his workshop duties and clock on as a minister, working in the evenings and weekends.

In 1989 Rahu was appointed as the Garage Supervisor at Rotorua’s Road Services Depot. But in some ways that was a poisoned chalice – because in 1990 the Government closed Road Service garages throughout the country, and Rahu had to lay off his team of mechanics.

At that point, he was asked to become the fulltime Vicar of St Faiths. He served there for four years, before being posted to Te Wairua Tapu, the Redfern Anglican church and marae that is a focal point for all Maori in Sydney.

He returned to New Zealand in 2000 and was installed as the Archdeacon of Te Tai Hauauru.

His wife Kay died shortly afterwards. Bishop Katene has recently remarried and he and his wife Kamana (Solomon) are expected to relocate to Rotorua.

To see a photo from Bishop Katene’s ordination, go to:


Footnote: Before Bishop Katene’s consecration, Manawa o Te Wheke had never had an elected bishop in its own right. Because he lived in Rotorua, Bishop Whakahuihui Vercoe, Te Pihopa o Aotearoa, or leader of the Maori church, assumed episcopal oversight for this region when it became an episcopal unit in 1992.

But when he was chosen as Archbishop for the whole church in 2004, Archbishop Vercoe had to let go of his other episcopal responsibilities.

At that stage, Bishop Brown Turei, the new Pihopa o Aotearoa - who, as Pihopa o Te Tai Rawhiti, was based in Gisborne - took the oversight responsibility for Manawa o Te Wheke. At the General Synod in May, Bishop Turei was himself chosen as Archbishop, to share the Primacy with Archbishops David Moxon (Tikanga Pakeha) and Jabez Bryce (Tikanga Polynesia).

Bishop Ngarahu Katene’s election means that the Manawa o Te Wheke Hui Amorangi now has, for the first time, its own unique bishop.


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