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Maori 'parliament' convenes

Maori 'parliament' convenes

Lloyd Ashton | 29 Oct 2009

Te Runanganui, the biggest regular event in the life of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, the Maori Anglican Church, kicks off in Auckland this afternoon.

Te Runanganui, which is held every two years, is, in effect, the parliament of Te Pihopatanga. It’s a three-day gathering of more than 130 representatives from all corners of the country, to review the life of Te Pihopatanga and to make decisions about its laws and policies.

This year it’s being held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (corner of Khyber Pass and Burleigh St Grafton) and it will run from 4pm this afternoon until midday on Sunday November 1.

The runanganui will debate and hear presentations on a range of issues of concern and relevance to iwi Maori. Including, for example, a presentation from the Pihopatanga’s Commission on Human Sexuality.

Te Pihopatanga set up this body to study and develop its own recommendations on one of the thorniest issues facing the Anglican Church today – the ordination of gay people.

In 2007 the commission produced an interim report, saying it didn’t consider same-sex orientation should be a barrier to ordination. Te Runanganui will hear from the chairperson of its commission, Bishop Kito Pikaahu, and from Bishop Victoria Matthews, who leads the Diocese of Christchurch.

Bishop Matthews is Canadian, and she’ll be speaking of the Anglican Church of Canada’s experiences with its own commission on sexuality.

There’ll also be a political forum. The Minister of Maori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples, and former Labour ministers Parekura Horomia and Shane Jones will speak to the question: What are your political parties doing to uplift Maori in a fragmented society?

Canada’s first National Indigenous Bishop, the Rt Rev Mark McDonald, will give a keynote address on Friday. The Pihopatanga has, over the years, sought to support the worldwide Anglican Indigenous Network, and it has close ties with Canadian First Nation Anglicans.

There’ll be reports from the Maori schools, and consideration of proposals from the Te Aute Trust Board for reforms to the school’s constitutions, curriculum and the structure of their endowment funds.

Te Aute and Hukarere are suffering from being locked into ‘Glasgow’ leases on their endowment farmlands. These longterm leases, which were set up by the Crown in the 19th century, mean that over time the rentals fall hopelessly behind commercial rates, while tenants are able to cash in by subleasing their farms at market rates. Those Glasgow leases are now the subject of a Treaty of Waitangi claim, and the runanganui will be updated on these matters.

And there’ll be a report from the St Stephen’s and Queen Victoria Schools Trust Boards on redevelopment proposals for those schools.

Last week the trust board held its first public meeting since the schools were closed in 2000, (and 2001, respectively) and Te Runanganui will consider, among other questions, whether there is still a place for Maori boarding schools in the age of Kura Kaupapa Maori, and wharekura Maori.

On Saturday evening, there’ll be an service led by the rangatahi. A highlight of that service will be the signing of a partnership covenant with the Diocese of Hawaii. The Hawaiian diocese is holding its diocesan synod at the same time as the runanganui, and because Hawaii is exactly 24 hours behind Auckland, there’ll be a live link set up between the two gatherings.

The powhiri for Te Runanganui will be at 4pm today at Tatai Hono, the newly refurbished marae that backs on to Holy Sep.


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