Maori chaplains ministering across the motu in prisons, hospitals, the defence forces, schools and kura received a boost in the weekend.
They’ve recently formed themselves into an ecumenical network, and launched The Aotearoa Maori Chaplains’ Charitable Trust – and that trust has now been formally recognised as a “ministry priority” by Te Runanganui.
The idea of Maori chaplains, of whatever denomination, banding together for mutual support, to set standards, to seek alliances and to advocate for their cause was a dream of the late Pihopa John Gray.
Archdeacon John Flavell, who is one of the founding trustees, as well as a Tairawhiti delegate at Te Runanganui, told the hui that a “ministry to Maori chaplains” was needed because being a Maori chaplain can be lonely.
“Especially when you’re working in the prison system,” he said, “you’re isolated.
“You have no church family. The only church family you have are prisoners. Or staff. So it’s been difficult, over the years.
“Also in hospital chaplaincy – you have a lot of difficulties there as well. There have been a lot of gatekeepers – and you can’t get in to see your own people.
“There’s been so much talk about Maori chaplains, so we decided to look at an association.
“Which Pihopa John Gray had started, and we want to carry that on. Because it’s important for us as Maori chaplains to support our own people.”
Back in 2009, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Waipounamu launched ’Manaaki Hauora’ which was the first, and is so far the only indigenous chaplains training programme.
The idea of taking Maori chaplaincy further, and developing a ministry to Maori chaplains, took root three years ago. Twenty chaplains attended the first Aotearoa Maori Chaplains Network hui last year – and twice that number turned up for the 2017 hui.
The network now boasts 55 members, and membership is open not only to Anglicans but to Maori chaplains of any denomination.
Resolution: “That the Aotearoa Maori Chaplains Charitable Trust be accepted as a ministry priority for Tikanga Maori.”
Moved: The Venerable Mabel Grennell
Seconded: Rev Kevin Herewini.