After months of planning, a three-day long theological review of the three tikanga structure – by which this church governs itself – has got underway at St John’s College.
This review is taking the form of an academic colloquium – with a dozen papers being presented today, this evening and tomorrow morning.
Tomorrow afternoon, there will be a switch of mode to public conference, which will include workshops, and will continue through till mid-afternoon on Saturday.
The scholastic papers are reviewing the three tikanga concept, and practice, from a range of theological perspectives – biblical, systematic, historical, pastoral and contextual – and those papers will later be published in a book.
The first speaker this morning was Canon Robert Kereopa, the CEO of the Anglican Missions Board, who had returned overnight from the Christian Conference of Asia, which was held in Yangon, in Myanmar.
He said he’d been particularly struck by the contribution in Myanmar of Rev Dr Wesley Ariarajah, a Sri Lankan theologian who had evaluated the progress of decolonisation in the church in Asia.
Dr Ariarajah, says Robert, had been heartened by the progress of decolonisation in Asian theology.
“But he was far less impressed with the decolonisation of liturgy in the Asian context – and he is even less impressed with the decolonisation of mission.”
Robert used that assessment as a basis for evaluating Tikanga Maori mission here – and he gave a mostly upbeat assessment of what the adoption of the three tikanga constitution had enabled.
He suggested the 1992 constitution had emboldened Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa (TPOA) to either launch or pursue three significant and unique developments in indigenous mission: the Minita-a-Iwi strategy (which TPOA began in 1978, as soon as it won diocesan status); the Anglican Indigenous Network, which was set up in 1992, and which, says Robert “is probably the most important overseas mission priority for TPOA” – and the Minita-a-Whanau (MAW) strategy, which was launched at the 2015 Runanganui of TPOA, and which has taken off within Te Pihopatanga.
For instance: In the last two years, said Robert, the Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tai Tokerau has put 130 people through its own MAW training programme.
“Indigenous governance,” he said, “has enabled indigenous leaders the freedom to pursue their own aspirations in new and innovative ways. “No longer under the thumb of a colonial power, they have their own Turangawaewae on which to stand, and from which to launch out into the deep to reach out to their own peoples and beyond their peoples to the world at large.”
The colloquium continues this evening, and concludes at midday tomorrow.