Wednesday, May 7, 2014

If we love Polynesia, we will not dismember them

The motions which I find are making more blood boil in the run up to General Synod have nothing to do with sexuality. They are the motions being moved by Selwyn Parata and seconded by Te Hope Hakaraia. At least one effect of the motions would be to dismember the Diocese of Polynesia (i.e. Tikanga Pasefika) from the church in Aotearoa New Zealand. For the 'textual background' to what I am about to say, head to the bottom of the post.

We are a Christian church bound together by the love of God and moved by that love to love one another as members of the body of Christ. The gospel is the overriding text which shapes and influences our relationships with one another in the one (Anglican) body of Christ in these islands.

These islands are the islands of Aotearoa New Zealand and the islands of the South Pacific including Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. As long as we are the church of these islands it is right and proper within the bonds of godly love for one another that we are three tikanga, recognising the people realities of Aotearoa New Zealand (the two peoples, Maori and Pakeha, determined by the Treaty of Waitangi) and the people who live separately from us in the islands to the north of us.

Any attempt to reduce the tikanga of this church from three to two is an attempt to dismember this church, to break off one of the tikanga. That one tikanga being broken off might then be given some kind of refuge in the arms of another tikanga (e.g. Polynesia becomes a part of Tikanga Pakeha) does not alter the fact that a dismemberment will have taken place. Within the body of Christ any dismemberment, other than a voluntary and freely chosen one, is an act inconsistent with the godly love which binds us together as one body.

I hope that General Synod gives short shrift to these motions AND - please read on carefully - finds another pathway to deal with two matters, one of which is an opportunity and the other of which is a problem.

The opportunity

Our church has the opportunity to grow and to develop its life. But I wonder if we have a vision for the future? In particular I recommend a vision for a future in which we are one church in all ways, not just where our tikanga intersect at General Synod, various committees and commissions, and at St John's College. This vision is God's own vision expressed in (above all) John 17 and Ephesians 1-3. I have no problem with being what we are for the time-being as our separation into three tikanga enables certain things to be achieved in respect of working through our historical anomalies and injustices. But we should never let go of God's vision for the church and one day we must align ourselves again with it.

My further recommendation is that we develop a vision for the Diocese of Polynesia to become the Province of Polynesia. That would be a huge step and might take 100 years. But we will not get to it if we do not articulate the vision now and begin the steps which might make it happen. From our Aotearoa New Zealand side of things, we could begin now the steps, including legal changes, which would enable us one day in the future to generously and lovingly gift resources (taonga, yes, taonga) to our brothers and sisters across the sea. The development of this vision should not be an imposition from the Aotearoa New Zealand branches of the family to the South Pacific branch but a vision jointly shared and developed under God.

The problem

I assume, from some past hui I have been involved in and from my own experiences in three tikanga meetings, that a driver for the motions noted below is the manner of access to and authority over the major resources of this church, notably the immense funds of the St John's College Trust Board. 'The manner of' in the preceding sentence refers to the fact that currently no one accesses those funds except by a 'three tikanga process', that is, by way of meetings and conversations between the three tikanga partners. Such mutual submission is a gospel value but it runs against (my understanding of) tino rangatiratanga (i.e. control).

I am wondering whether the fact that some applications for funds in recent years by Tikanga Maori have been constrained, if not revised and even reversed as a result of the meetings of the three partners may be a driving motivation behind the motions below.

From a Maori perspective there seems to be a problem when it comes to accessing that which is understood as taonga which belongs to Maori. The access is fettered. One obvious solution would be to unfetter it.

Now I am not sure if, in one or more ways, the two motions below are in conflict, as the first motion acknowledges the appropriateness, under the Treaty of Waitangi, of Maori and Pakeha meeting together to decide things about the life of this church. But the second motion seems to imply a strong desire that even in a two-Tikanga church, Maori would have tino rangatiratanga over the resources which it believes belongs to it.

How might we solve this problem?

I suggest we Pakeha do a bit of thinking about what we have tino rangatiratanga over! Each of the NZ dioceses has its own trust funds which are spent on the ministry needs of the dioceses without recourse to conversation with Tikanga partners. It should not be a big deal* to carve up the St John's College Trust funds so that some of those funds belonged as firmly to either Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa and/or the five Maori hui amorangi as current diocesan trust funds belong to the dioceses. (*Just the odd Act of Parliament would be required!)

To make such a disbursement would be to empower Tikanga Maori as a whole or via its five hui amorangi in ways in which the NZ dioceses are already empowered. (We might also empower the Diocese of Polynesia at the same time!)

But the way to this radical change is not via the motions below.

FROM TAONGA (print version)

On page 10 of the latest print Taonga (accessible here) we read,

"But there are two motions on the General Synod agenda that do actually have the potential to finish the 3Tikanga church. 
The first proposes a constitutional amendment that the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia become "a two-Tikanga Church for Maori and Pakeha ...". 
And the second proposes that the constitution acknowledge the right of Maori "to exercise tino rangatiratanga" - absolute sovereignty - over taonga, as guaranteed in Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi. (It links with a restatement of the Anglican mark of mission about unjust structures.)."

In a footnote on p. 13 the text of the motions are given:

(the first referred to above). "That the constitution ... be amended to provide for:
a. a two-Tikanga Church for Maori and Pakeha (being all other citizens in Aotearoa New Zealand) within which there are no impediments to the exercise of tino rangatiratanga by Maori over taonga, and
b. appropriate relationships between Maori and Pakeha on the one hand and Pasefika on the other. 
(the second referred to above includes these words) That Te Hinota Whanui/the General Synod:
a. acknowledge in its constitution the right of whanau, hapu, iwi and Maori to exercise tino rangatiratanga over taonga as guaranteed in Article 2 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi, and
b. undertakes to confront unjust structures that impeded the exercise of these rights.

To which we say ...


Chris Spark said...

On the whole this is new to me, but the spirit of it does worry me, because of money being (apparently) at the heart of it, and an assertion of 'our rights' seems to me somewhat un-gospel feeling, the opposite of Phil 2.
I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I am pleased that there is unrest at the motion.

Our oneness (in the terms of John 17) is in being 'those who believe in [Christ] through [the apostles'] words (verse 20), and are thereby made one in Christ, deeply. This of course assumes we are truly one as a result of the belief in the apostles' words, but in the light of that it is a powerful and much deeper reality, even than the real issues of a taonga and tino rangatiratanga.

Chris Spark said...

fixer: John 17:20 - 'through their word' (not words, apologies - details matter :) )

Father Ron Smith said...

Having lived and worked in Polynesia - during the reign of Bishop John-Charles Vockler, when Archbishop Winston Halapua was still a student - I am personally aware of how important is the connection between our New Zealand Church and the Diocese of Polynesia. To cut them off from us would be a drastic and infelicitous action.

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Peter for raising again this serious matter, one that has been simmering for a few years now.

Yes; Acts of Parliament might just be the just and necessary way forward!

Jean said...

Hi Peter

You say funds are distributed to each diocese for spending, does each diocese mean the money is available to support all three tikanga in that diocese or do the three groups operate separetly? If so is the only way for the Maori and Pasifika Tikanga to gain access to funds through the joint decision making process? And if so does the meeting where it is decided if funds are allocated have equal representation of all parties?

Once again excuse my ignorance, who me an Anglican?

Cheers, Jean

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
All distribution of St John's College Trust funds is governed and advised by three tikanga bodies with equal representation from each tikanga.

Once the money is received 'down the line' e.g. in a diocese, then the diocese gets on and uses it according to their application, and reports back up the line on its use in terms of the application.

Pakeha dioceses also have separate trust funds they can draw on both for general and for educational purposes. But the funds vary from diocese to diocese as some over the years have been better endowed than others.

Ask a question if that is not clear as potentially a longer explanation could be given!

Jean said...

Hi Peter

That is clear thanks. Just a few more questions.

I assume then the Maori and Pasifika Tikanga have seperate diocese? If so are they one diocese or many?

Do the other funds for Pakeha diocese come from the likes of legacies?


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
Technically there is one Maori diocese which works via five distinct hui amorangi. The hui amorangi have increasingly acted as though they are autonomous dioceses and interestingly this year at GS the hui amorangi for the South Island is seeking a change of name which will include the word 'Diocese'.

Tikanga Pasefika is directly equivalent to the Diocese of Polynesia (save for a few congregations which meet within Aotearoa NZ). Just one diocese though occasionally talk has arisen about the Archdeaconry of Tonga becoming a separate diocese within Tikanga Pasefika.

Pakeha Dioceses' trust funds tend to come from legacies but a variation (I suppose) in the Diocese of Chch is that some funds could be traced back to the original 'Anglican settlement' of Canterbury. A variation on legacies would be funds arising from the sale of redundant church land and buildings (though often those funds will be tagged for the parish in which that property lies).

Anonymous said...

I am so saddened whenever this issue raises its head, that the Anglican church here in New Zealand has bought into the "spirit of the age" by setting up ethnicity based decision-rights instead of the Spirit of Christ, which as Chris has already noted is one of unity as children of the same Father, and where there is neither male nor female, slave nor free, Greek nor Jew.

Until this fundamental mistake is reversed, then each decision will lead to a growing sense of embitterment as the sense of entitlement of each party is infringed.


Jean said...

Hi Peter

Thanks again for educating me!

I have always liked the idea of the three tikanga - I suppose because of the way it fits in with the idea of the trinity. One church, three bodies.

I like the idea of Hui Amorangi being made into five distinct dioceses as well as enabling them to focus on their respective communities it would recognise the tribal differences within Maori culture. It would also give them more freedom to operate within their cultural parameters. I see no reason why these could not be funded in the same way as the Pakeha Diocese are.

While reconginsing the Treaty I too would be saddened if the Polynesian Diocese were removed from the Maori and Pakeha. Recognising New Zealand very early on encouraged Pacifiic immigration, our association and oversight politically of Pacific nations both in Aid and Governance (now including Kiribati) and the origins of Maori from the Pacific Islands I think gives Pacific Christians a special place in our church.

I like the idea of the trust funds being distributed by the three groups as this is to me would help maintain an association and unity between the Tikanga. In terms of Tino Rangitiratanga what is it specifically that Tikanga Maori feel they have been denied the right of decision or influence over in this area? (e.g. do they feel they have received less funding than what is fair or are there other concerns?)

Education across Tikanga so we all can understand each other better would further boost our unity in Christ (this probably already happens). I think it would also especially help Maori who are participants (both lay and clergy) in Tikanga Pakeha.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
As I understand the driving issues behind the motion they have this background:

1. Distribution of the SJC Trust Board funding is undertaken on a reasonably equitable basis but there may be some continuing concern as to whether Maori ought to get a straight 50% of the funds (which is a tricky question to answer because on one analysis of the distribution they do get that, but another approach to it suggests they don't ...).
2. Even if we all agree that everything is fine and equitable re the distribution, there remains this difference between Maori and Pakeha: the distribution from the Trust is a huge proportion of all funds Tikanga Maori has available to them. (One Maori colleague once said to me, The Trust Board funding is our economy), whereas Pakeha have other sources of funding via diocesan trusts, which means that when Maori seek funding they have to negotiate with other Tikanga, do so annually (which is tiring re all the forms to fill in), and generally feel beholden to others whereas Pakeha also do that AND have sources of funding they need consult no one but themselves about, do not need to fill in forms to draw down on, and do not need to report back to themselves about usage (save, obviously, for audited annual accounts in accordance with the law of the land).

That is, my sense is that Maori would like tino rangatiratanga over their 'share' of the SJC Trust Board funds (however that share is to be calculated) in a manner similar to the tino rangatiratanga which NZ pakeha dioceses enjoy over their own trusts.

Jean said...

So a fair approach might be, assuming an agreement on the amount Tikanga Maori currently receive, to allocate a percentage of the funds where they have total tino rangatiratanga over and the remaining percentage where they still apply and report for (so they have more freedom but also benefit in some of the spending from the perspectives of other Tikanga?)

I guess in terms of the Pakeha Tikanga having other forms of income this also has to be considered in the light of the Pakeha Tikanga also having a mandate to which includes ministry to Maori (alongside of course all ethnicities). And this is great, especially how most clergy now often include the Te Reo in services, we just have to work on the songs! I know a considerable amount of time and effort went into running services at a local Maori Church in our area for many years until the church was closed but not before trying to get assistance/support from a local Marae to keep it alive.


Peter Carrell said...

Re your first para, Jean: yes,that is something Maori have tried to achieve in the past at GS. I am not quite sure of the status of that quest, e.g. is a report about it coming back to this Synod? Is the quest now superseded by the motions I am discussing here?

Father Ron Smith said...

It seems to me that - in terms of 'keeping parishes alive' - there should be a proper understanding of self-sufficiency, proportionate to membership. No matter how much money one pours into a project, if the local people do not support it, then it just may no be viable.

Mission is something else, though.