Rangiātea Pastorate Church and the Anglican Parish of Ōtaki will join together in the grassy field that separates their two churches to commemorate this Waitangi Day.
This is the second year that these two Anglican church communities have gathered friends and neighbours together for worship and Treaty conversations to commemorate Waitangi Day.
The two communities are hopeful that everyone learns something of the untold stories of Māori and Pākehā history as well as look for positive futures.
Both these two Ōtaki churches stand on land gifted by local iwi Ngāti Raukawa to the Church Missionary Society (CMS). This piece of history alone makes the land between them on Te Rauparaha Street a fitting spot for the two churches to gather for Waitangi Day.
Rev Dr Rangi Nicholson, a priest and Minita-ā-Iwi at Rangiātea Church, believes that Māori and Pākehā Anglican churches throughout Aotearoa New Zealand should come together at all levels as co-labourers in Christ’s mission.
Rev. Simon and Rev. Jessica Falconer, Co-Ministers in the Anglican community in Ōtaki are excited to explore a dream of Pākehā and Māori living out the Gospel of aroha and peace through the integrity of each culture: through our cultures and our languages, in ways that transform people’s lives for the better at the flax roots.
The way Rangi sees it, each Waitangi Day is a chance to face squarely the stories that stand in the way of the dream of togetherness in mission.
Some of those are hard stories to hear, like the General Synod who allocated limited authority to the first hard-won Māori Anglican Bishop, or the mostly unpaid Māori clergy faithfully serving God’s church, or an iwi’s land gifted to the church in trust and never returned when not used for the purpose it was given.
Rangi says the Anglican Church needs to remember that these stories are not in the far distant past. Those are the kinds of stories Rangiātea Parish and All Saints Anglican Parish want to face and to see relationships restored.
“The problem today is, although the Anglican Church committed to Māori and Pākehā partnership in mission more than thirty years ago, in practice for many Anglicans it has not been happening.”
“Often Māori and Pākehā parishes have allowed this partnership - a partnership marked by Treaty principles and shared Gospel values - to drift off to the margins.”
So starting from Waitangi Day, these two Ōtaki churches are hoping to set about living a new story on their small patch of shared ground: of friendship, of faith, of solidarity – and cooperation towards a better future together.
These two Anglican church communities say it is a small first step for Ōtaki, but it feels important and good to take it.
Rangi says that given our history, he believes Māori will need to be merciful, and Pākehā will need to be generous.
“We can start by getting to know each other, to come to care more about each other’s lives and to acknowledge the past we share – all that is good and beautiful, as well as all that is bad and ugly.”
“Only then will we be able to walk alongside one another towards more truth, more justice, and more aroha.”
The 2021 Ōtaki Waitangi Day Picnic sets off with mihi and karakia in Rangiātea Church at 3pm, with talks and a panel discussion on the Treaty at All Saints’ Church at 4pm. Entertainment and shared kai is starts from 5pm with closing Evening Prayer at 6pm.