The runanganui (synod) of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, also known as Tikanga Maori, have voted to 'reject' the Covenant. In all likelihood this means that our General Synod in July next year will not adopt the Covenant as that would require none of our three cultural houses of the GS to veto it, let alone a majority of the traditional houses of bishops, clergy and laity to approve in a majority (if not, to cover all the bases here, further voting by synods and the next GS, depending on what level of canonical embeddedness the Covenant was given). I could be accused of not facing reality by using the phrase 'in all likelihood', but as I read the report on the rejection at Taonga, I see the wording of the resolution acknowledges the possibility that GS may not agree with the runanganui. I imagine that the Maori representatives, as a for instance of change between now and then, would not want to vote against the Covenant in July 2012 if it turned out that doing so then would mean our church was the only one rejecting the Covenant!
Quite a bit of comment could be made here about the implications of this move, including an analysis which explained this move in terms of history and its unkindness to Anglican Maori, with specific reference to agreements poorly honoured.
Instead I want to note that the 'Covenant' being rejected by the speakers as their speeches are reported in the Taonga article is an interpretation of the Covenant and not the Covenant itself: for instance, the Covenant will not lead to any member church being ejected from the Communion, it is not about 'compliance and control' and it is about relationships (not against relationships). Also being rejected is the possibility of advancing Anglican ecclesiology in respect of communion in favour of advancing rangatiratanga as the cornerstone doctrine of ecclesiology.
Taonga carries other reports of resolutions of the runanganui, including one which seeks greater control of the St John's College Trust Board funds. Here further rejection of agreements is implied, namely our constitution itself as a Maori 50% share of those funds implies that the remaining two tikanga will share the other 50%. In my view, noting some previous conversations in our church, this is a very strong signal that Tikanga Maori, deep in its heart, harbours doubts that we should be a three tikanga church and wishes Tikanga Pasefika to be subsumed within Tikanga Pakeha. Arguments for a revision of our arrangements in this way are worth airing, for we should be a happy church at peace with itself rather than a three tikanga church. Would it be more fruitful to tackle our tikanga arrangements before attempting to work out our funding arrangements?
Paradoxically, in making such a move re SJC Trust Board funds with its significant implications for our future, the basis for Tikanga Maori doing so is the covenant between Maori and Pakeha known as the Treaty of Waitangi. Covenants have their uses, and covenants are indeed pregnant with possibilities for application which reject a part of the church that we do not think should be included in it.