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Katene: Methodist Church of NZ Trusts Bill

Methodist Church of New Zealand Trusts Bill: third reading
Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga
Wednesday 9 December 2009; 4.25pm

I am pleased to stand to respond to the Methodist Church of New Zealand Trusts Bill.

In essence, this Bill is about changing with the times.

The Bill aims to provide an appropriate mechanism for varying charitable trusts of the Methodist Church where the original objects or purposes are now impossible, impracticable, or inexpedient to carry out.

Heaven forbid that the Parliament would stand in way of the Church in its determination that any course of action would be impossible, impracticable, or inexpedient.

On any level, it simply doesn’t make sense.

But even more so for the Methodists.

For if we recall the origins of this church, in the mid 1700s, it was the fact that the movement emerged from a group of students who sought to order to lives methodically, to meet regularly for prayer and the study of the scriptures.

So when the Methodists tell us their Trust provisions are no longer practicable, then we would do well to listen.

But there is another even more noble reason for being pleased to speak to this Bill today.

For if we think of the broader Methodist ethos, from the first days in Aotearoa it has been about a focus on social justice. Early Methodists campaigned against slavery, they fought for prison reform, they advocated initiatives to improve literacy and health.

The Methodist movement has been active in New Zealand, speaking out against the sin of sweated labour, racism, sexism, human rights abuses, unfair trading practices, third world debt, environmental pollution and other aspects.

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In my own electorate of Te Tai Tonga; Methodists have been responding to many of the social service needs of the community since their arrival in our rohe.

They have run orphanages and aged care homes; they have moved to early learning, adult learning and youth training centres. They run programmes for community social workers, advocacy and support

And so I want to acknowledge Te Haahi Weteriana O Aotearoa for the work that they have done in supporting those New Zealanders who are more vulnerable than others.

I want to also acknowledge the initiative they have taken, in trying to give life to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Methodist Church describe themselves as a Treaty-based church, expressing its governance in a bicultural, power-sharing partnership between Te Taha Maori and Tauiwi.

Since 1973, Maori Methodism has been largely autonomous. Tangata whenua guide the Church, through Te Taha Maori, to understand exactly what a power-sharing partnership consists of.

Mr Speaker, all of this background is vital preamble to this second reading of the Bill.

This is an organisation which is truly trying to do its best by New Zealanders.

And in particular it is seeking to make amendments which are to enable the church to provide more relevant, more appropriate care for children and young people.

The Board is wanting to adopt simpler and more cost effective provisions to those set out in the Charitable Trusts Act.

It is also looking to use the trust funds or trust property for the broader purpose of the welfare of children in New Zealand.

I am also aware of the recent information which showed that the number of families needing special grants to pay for school uniforms, stationery, exam fees and compulsory fees has soared in the past year.

The Child Poverty Action Group estimate that some 240,000 children live in families that do not qualify for the additional help given to others in the form of the In Work Tax Credit.

Mr Speaker, just to bring all these points together.

We have an organisation, the Methodist Church, that wants to improve upon its current provisions; in order to meet the needs of some of the more vulnerable citizens across our community.

We have another organisation, the Child Poverty Action Group, which tells us that for many thousands of children in this land, there are day by day difficulties which cause them to struggle with the capacity to live a decent life.

And we have another organisation, the Maori Party, who is dedicated to advancing social justice, to eliminating poverty and to the pursuit of whanau ora.

We believe the intentions of the Methodist Church are honourable ones, and we are happy to support this Bill to enable them to fulfil their aspirations without hindrance.

ENDS

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