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Headstone Unveiling for Bishop Sir Paul Reeves


Headstone Unveiling for Bishop Sir Paul Reeves

The headstone for the late Bishop Sir Paul Reeves will be unveiled at a service in Auckland this Friday October 26th by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams.

The presence of the Archbishop is recognition of the mana in which Sir Paul is held across the Anglican Communion. Beverley Lady Reeves says the family is honoured that the Archbishop will unveil the headstone. Dr. Williams is visiting New Zealand for the Anglican Consultative Council that will meet in Auckland from Saturday.

In Maoridom an unveiling service marks the placing of the headstone. It is often a time when families come together and renew bonds. The Reeves whanau will gather with representatives of Te Atiawa, and friends and colleagues for the service at St John’s College in Meadowbank.

The flag of the Anglican Communion will be draped across the headstone along with Sir Paul’s korowai, the kiwi feather cloak, which lay on his casket during the State Funeral. Sir Paul chose to be buried at St John’s College, a place where he studied for priesthood and later taught. He died last year on August 14th.

The family has designed the headstone. Lady Reeves says, “The headstone is simple but it tells a great deal of Sir Paul, his whakapapa to Te Atiawa and how he lived his life.” The stone is rough-hewn grey granite that reflects Taranaki the mountain, a powerful symbol of the Taranaki tribes. There is the inscription, ‘Kororia ki te Atua i runga rawa,’ which translated means, ‘Glory to God in the highest.’ Above the inscription is the raukura, the albatross feathers of Parihaka, that symbolise a desire to live in harmony.

The feathers, often worn in the hair of the women of Taranaki, tell of the Taranaki prophets, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi. They were leaders of the passive resistance movement in response to the land confiscations across Taranaki in the late 19th Century. The Bishop of Taranaki, Bishop Philip Richardson says, “Sir Paul’s roots in terms of geography and whakapapa are firmly in Taranaki. Throughout his life and work he lived out a vocation as a peacemaker and a gentle prophet that was consistent not only with the Christian gospel, but also with the teaching of his tupuna (forebears)."

Born in Wellington, Sir Paul began his ministry as a deacon in Tokoroa and later spent five years England. In 1964 as Vicar of Okato, a Taranaki coastal town, Sir Paul lived amongst his whanaunga. He lived among his mother’s Te Atiawa whanau for the first time and was able to reconnect with them. He was appointed Bishop of Waiapu in 1971. In 1979 he became Bishop of Auckland, and then Primate and Archbishop of New Zealand the following year. In 1985 Sir Paul was appointed Governor-General, the first Maori to hold that position.
Sir Paul was the Anglican Observer at the United Nations from 1991 - 1993. He observed elections in Ghana and South Africa on behalf of the Commonwealth and assisted with the constitutional reform process in Guyana. He chaired a review of the Fijian Constitution. Sir Paul acted as the Commonwealth Special Observer to Guyana and Fiji, and appointed in 2005, was the incumbent Chancellor of Auckland University of Technology.

Participating in the service will be Bishop Kito Pikaahu, Bishop of Tai Tokerau, and Bishop Philip Richardson, Bishop of Taranaki. Sir Paul mentored both bishops over many years.


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