Te Rūnanganui Closing Eucharist

The sun was back out in Te Matau A Māui and shining through the colourful stained glass windows of the historic Waiapu Cathedral as Reverend Zhane Tahau Whelan invited everyone to join together one last time on Sunday morning.

Te Karakia Whakamutunga – the Closing Eucharist – brought an end to Te Rūnanganui o Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa and the Anglican Indigenous Leadership Initiative (AILI) that had been held earlier in the week.

Te Hīmene Tuatahi Arahina, E Ihowa got the service off to a rousing start followed by a welcome from The Very Reverend Di Woods, dean of Waiapu Cathedral.

In his sermon, Archbishop Don Tamihere encouraged those present and watching on the livestream to think about the mātauranga their ancestors brought with them to Aotearoa.

“Mātauranga Māori has been part of the national conversation now for a while. Part of that conversation has been beautiful and it has produced things like Matariki, which if you are Māori is a beautiful thing to behold – to see how mainstream New Zealand has adopted that as their own. It serves as a simple but powerful example that our mātauranga is beautiful and accessible and encouraging to all. That’s the power of mātauranga,” Archbishop Tamihere said.

“In other spaces, though, our mātauranga is derided and criticised and challenged and so we have choices to make about the pathways that we take.”

Archbishop Tamihere told the story of the tune for The Lord’s Prayer being produced in Aotearoa and now sung throughout the world. “Our mātauranga produced that.”

“It’s interesting , isn’t it, that professors from the other side of the world write entire articles trying to destroy mātauranga Māori because they see it as a threat. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that people are travelling this country right now attacking co-governance, attacking treaty rights, attacking the idea that we might teach people te reo Māori, attacking the idea of a Māori health authority so that we can address the deprivation under which our people suffer. If you come to the East Coast, your life expectancy is 15 to 20 years less than everybody else in the country – just because you live there, through deprivation. And people choose those points in our lives to attack our mātauranga – a mātauranga that heals and privileges our story and our place in the world, because they perceive our mātauranga to be a threat.”

Relating back to the Bible, Archbishop Tamihere said Jesus had been crucified because his mātauranga was a threat to those in power.

He said those gathered for Te Rūnanganui had asked themselves during the week what their mātauranga would be. “Our matauranga will be aroha,” Archbishop Tamihere said.

The service was held 25 years to the day since the Anglican Church-led Hīkoi of Hope: Te Hīkoi mō te Tūmanako mō te Rawakore reached Wellington.

In 1998 the church was inspired to stage the hikoi – an important event in the country’s history – because of major social issues in employment, education, housing, health and poverty. About 30,000 New Zealanders marched from Cape Reinga in the north and Rakiura in the south.

Following the service, Archbishop Tamihere met members of the church who queued outside in the sunshine to meet him and have a photo taken, concluding an important and successful week of wānanga for all involved in AILI and Te Rūnanganui 2023.