The Anglican Covenant is all but dead in the water as far as this church is concerned. This follows a crucial vote by Tikanga Maori at its biennial runanganui in Ohinemutu today.
The Covenant will still come before General Synod in July, but a decision to accept it requires a majority vote in all three houses – lay, clergy and bishops – and by all three tikanga.
Today's runanganui decision effectively binds all Maori representatives on General Synod to say no.
Two of the five hui amorangi – Te Manawa o Te Wheke and Te Tairawhiti – have already rejected the Covenant, largely on the grounds that it could compromise Maori rangatiratanga (sovereignty).
Moving today's resolution, Archdeacon Turi Hollis noted that the Covenant applied at provincial level. "If one diocese makes a decision that another objects to – then the whole province will be held accountable," he said.
“We are being asked to conform to the standards of the rest of the world. Yet we have a constitution that the rest of the world does not understand.
“Would that have been agreed to had the Covenant been in force?
“The proposed Covenant is trying to impose on us something that should be based on relationship – on whanaungatanga or manaakitanga.”
Seconding the motion, the Rev Don Tamihere said the Covenant was not about homosexuality.
“It is about compliance and control.
“We are being asked to sign over our sovereignty, our rangatiratanga to an overseas group… To a standing committee over whom we have no choice or control. And they have the power to recommend punishment.
“The proposed Covenant offers us nothing new – or nothing we need as Anglicans, as Hahi Mihinare, or as disciples of Jesus Christ.
“We don’t need it to have faith in Jesus Christ: We already have a covenant that binds us to our saviour, Jesus Christ. And that is the only covenant we need.”
Philip Charles (Te Waipounamu) said: “Over the years, the practice has been: If you disagree with the church, you leave.
“And those groups who have left have often withered and died.
“The Covenant changes that. If you disagree with a group – you kick them out.
“I give it two thumbs down.”
The Rev Ngira Simmonds (Manawa o te Wheke) pointed out that to be Anglican means to be in relationship with people – even if you don’t like them.
“We want this church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia to focus, instead, on acting for the restoration of justice.”
Pakeha dioceses, meanwhile, are split on the measure. Wellington, Nelson and Waikato-Taranaki have expressed qualified support, at least, while Auckland, Waiapu and Dunedin have rejected it.
Christchurch and Polynesia have yet to come up with recommendations.
The full resolution
Mover: Ven Turi Hollis Seconder: Rev Don Tamihere
That this Te Runanganui,
1. noting that the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui has approved in principle Sections 1-3 of the proposed Anglican Covenant, and asked Episcopal Units to study the proposed Covenant and respond to its 2012 Session, resolves as follows:
(a) Sections 1 & 2 of the proposed Anglican Covenant may be considered to be a useful starting point for consideration of our Anglican understanding of the Church of Christ
(b) Section 3 of the proposed Covenant contains an acceptable description of the basis for relationships between the churches of the Anglican Communion, and suggests a series of commitments which provide a useful framework within which churches of the Communion could discuss differences between them.
(c) Clause 4.2 of the proposed Covenant contains provisions which are contrary to our understanding of Anglican ecclesiology, to our understanding of the way of Christ, and to justice, and is unacceptable to this Runanganui.
2. Notes that Nga Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa-o-te-Wheke and Te Tairawhiti, as well as some of the other Episcopal Units of this Church, have rejected the proposed Covenant, and anticipates that a variety of views on the proposed Covenant will be expressed by the various Episcopal Units.
3. Te Runanganui resolves:
(a) To reject the Anglican Covenant.
(b) Asks General Synod/te Hinota Whanui,
(i) If it rejects the proposed Covenant in part or as a whole, to commit itself by Standing Resolution to following processes similar to those set out in Section 3 of the proposed Covenant if another church of the Communion raises concerns about actions this Church takes or considers taking.
(ii) To request its representatives to the Anglican Consultative Council to bring a motion to the 2012 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council to affirm that full membership of the Anglican Communion is not conditional on adoption of the proposed Covenant.
(c) Asks the General Manager to forward this Resolution to the General Secretary of this Church.
Other runanganui issues
This afternoon the runanganui will take a hard look at theological and ministry training across the Pihopatanga.
On Saturday morning the hui will hear reports on St Stephen’s, Queen Victoria, Te Aute and Hukarere schools.
And in the afternoon Bishop John Gray (Te Wai Pounamu) will brief the runanganui on how his hui amorangi is handling the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes.
The hui winds up on Sunday morning with brunch and poroporoaki, after a eucharist in St Faith’s.