Sunday, June 16, 2024

Lovely day

I am writing from the Chathams - from Chatham Island (also known as Rekohu or Wharekauri) to be precise - there are a number of small islands hereabouts but only two are inhabited - the other one is Pitt Island.

The Chatham Islands are one of the parishes for the Diocese of Christchurch and, while easy to get to due to a regular plane service, they are not easy to get to when it comes to booking a spot of several days not only in my diary but also in the diaries of parishioners, themselves often busy with things here and/or travel to New Zealand. The plane trip is 2 hours +/- depending on whether departing from Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland airports, and which direction the wind is blowing - our actual flight time the other day was 1 hr 40 min.

We have one church here, St. Augustine's, which is at a small settlement called Te One, about 3 km from the main settlement of Waitangi. There is also a vicarage on the same property as the church which ensures accommodation for visiting priests and bishops! 

For this visit I am accompanied by the Reverend Mike Hawke who will be involved with the parish in months and years ahead as a visiting priest, succeeding the Reverend John McLister.

The primary reason for visiting at this time of the year - mid June, winter - is that it works for the Preece family to gather to participate in an event this afternoon when we formally unveiled the memorial stones for two members of that family.

The Reverend Riwai Preece was our last resident priest on the island (1990-2015). Mr Bunty Preece, his brother, was mayor here, a farmer here and notable at the time of his death in 2018 for being the last surviving officer of the famous WW2 Maori Battalion. 

It was a privilege to be part of this afternoon's ceremony along with about 60 others. A sumptuous afternoon tea followed - including crayfish, groper wings, and weka [yes, legal to eat on this island, in case you are wondering].

Amazingly, after a raw and wintry day yesterday, with the sea foaming, the wind roaring and rain falling, today was gorgeous: sunny, warm, and hardly any wind. God be praised!

Our morning service was delightful and we managed to do ordinary but important things (apart from the service itself) such as pray for the new vestry, pray for Mike Hawke and his ministry here and dedicate a refurbished window (thanks Halswell Men's Shed!).

The epistle today, 1 Corinthians 5:6-10, challenged us about aspiring to please Christ above all, and to walk by faith and not by sight. The gospel reading, Mark 4:26-34, brought the kingdom of God to our attention. What is Jesus doing in our lives? What is he saying to us? What is he calling us to do?

Walking by faith and not by sight has a certain irony for Chatham Islanders at present. There have been troubles recently re sea transport of goods to the island, with one sharp consequence being that there is no petrol for sale here. Diesel is for sale still. Bottled gas supplies are running low. Boat troubles also mean that farmers have uncertainty about getting their cattle and sheep to meat works in New Zealand. Everyone believes the situation will come right before absolute crisis is reached, but no one can see clearly when the solution will chug into the harbour!

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