Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Service celebrates +Richard’s aroha

The funeral cortege of Pīhopa Rihari set out for tōna ukaipō (his birth place), with a service of thanksgiving and Eucharist at the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral yesterday following his death in Wairoa on Saturday 6 January.

Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa  |  11 Jan 2024  |

Yesterday's Eucharistic service at the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral saw the funeral cortege of Bishop Richard Wallace pause and take time to offer prayers of thanksgiving for his life.

Dean of Christchurch Cathedral the Very Rev Ben Truman had worked closely with the Wallace whānau to ensure the service would be fitting for not only celebrating the life and ministry of Bishop Richard but maintaining the mauri (spiritual essence) of his tangihanga.

The service had a distinctly Māori character amplified by the shift from organ music backing to guitar-accompanied himene, with strumming from Rev Chaans Tumataroa Clarke of Wairoa, as well as spontaneous waiata that welled up from parts of the congregation as the Spirit moved.

Kaikaranga Rev Jane de Feu brought Bishop Richard and the Wallace whānau into the Cathedral and Maaka Tau of Ngai Tuahuriri opened the proceedings with a mihi on behalf of mana whenua.

Bishop of Christchurch Peter Carrell was the first to offer thanks for the friendship and faith he’d found in his brother Bishop Richard Wallace, particularly in relationships that Richard and Mere had forged with he and his wife Teresa, as well as with Bishop Steve Maina and Watiri in Nelson and Bishop Steven Benford and Lorraine in Dunedin.

“The story of our relationship over these past five years has been a story of Richard and Mere’s incredible generosity… generosity with time, generosity with engagement, generosity with aroha – all coming from a generous spirit within, a heart overflowing with kindness and grace.”

“I could correct that word “heart” to plural “hearts” for Richard and Mere, but essentially you have had one heart of generosity together.”

Bishop Peter went on to give thanks for the many occasions that Bishop Richard had supported the Pākehā dioceses by offering blessing to communities as on many occasions they opened buildings, blessed monuments and ordained clergy together.

After Rev Nerissa Kaa read from Matthew’s account of the temptation of Christ (Matt 4: 5-10), Archbishop Don Tamihere preached a kauhau that looked to Bishop Richard as an inspiration to live in love.

But first he talked about Bishop Richard’s collection of shiny shoes – and his stellar outfit at the recent kaumatua ball.

“I don’t know another Māori man who has as many shoes as Bishop Richard had….there’s no doubt he had style…He was sharp, he was dapper…”

But while Archbishop Don pointed out Bishop Richard certainly had style, he also had something more.

“He had substance, he had character, he had integrity. He knew his mana whakapapa… he knew who he was, he knew who he was descended from, he knew his sacred mountains, his sacred rivers, he knew his whenua, he knew the stories, he knew that all of that was embodied in him, and he carried it with the mana and the tapu and the respect that it deserved.”

Archbishop Don shared how Bishop Richard believed the only pathway to Oranga Ake – to flourishing life – was through aroha.

“He knew that nothing was possible for him as a leader, as a father, as a husband, as a bishop, unless he maintained the integrity of relationships and honoured others.”

Archbishop Don explained that despite the tests and trials that Bishop Richard went through as he navigated between Māori and Pākehā worlds, and despite suffering deep loss, he had kept faith and chosen love.

“Don’t forget to love one another e te whānau, there are some challenging questions ahead of all of us. But if we respond to each other in love and try to look good while doing it, we will find the secret of a beautiful faith that Bishop Richard found and his family still embody.”

The funeral service and burial of Bishop Richard Rangi Wallace takes place at Wairewa Marae in Little River at 11am on Thursday 11 January.

The livestream of the Eucharistic service of thanksgiving for the life of Bishop Richard Wallace is available to view here.