by ROWENA OREJANA
Ministers from different faiths in Auckland gathered on November 27 to pray for the nation, the
city and for the Church — and to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Christianity in New Zealand.
Holy Trinity Cathedral Dean Jo Kelley-Moore hosted the event. “We’ve been delighted to host it as
the cathedral,” she said. “I think it’s really been an important moment to come together across all
flavours of the church in the city for us to pray together for God’s kingdom to come on Earth as it is
The gathering was initiated by Dean Kelley-Moore, Catholic Bishop Patrick Dunn and Anglican
Bishop Ross Bay.
Bishop Dunn said they were wondering if they should wait another 200 years to do it again. “We
were even thinking should we try to do it annually,” he said.
At the service, Te Tai Tokerau Bishop, Right Rev. Kito Pikaahu, gave a perspective on the conversion
of Maori on that Christmas Day in 1814.
“The efforts of Ruatara [Ngapuhi chief] and [Samuel] Marsden together . . . eventually led to the
conversion of Maori begun with anticipation, invitation, reception, proclamation, celebration,
goodwill, friendship, commitment, partnership identity, faith and hope. It did not begin with fear,
suspicion or mistrust.
“What is important with the events at Oihi is that it began, but did not end, there,” he said.
Bishop Pikaahu said that with Ruatara’s conversion, Christ was born in Maori hearts. “That the Maori heart can turn to Christ was the real point,” he said.
Bishop Dunn also shared the messages of Pope Francis about mission, saying this is where we encounter the Lord.
“[Pope Francis] says the church that goes out is a church where the doors are always open, that what the church offers is not a prize for the perfect but support for the weak. He emphasised that the church is the house of the Father in which there is a place for everyone with all their needs. All are welcome,” Bishop Dunn said.
The gathering prayed for healing in Aotearoa New Zealand and for God to bless, renew, refresh and protect his church.
City-Impact Church Pastor Peter Mortlock said the church had lost some of its ground in the past 50
years, with the increasing secularisation of society.
“This presents a great challenge to the church and a great challenge to the Gospel. It presents us with
a great opportunity to be the salt and the light. It’s a great opportunity to reach out,” he said.
Dean Kelley-Moore said she thought the faithful had lost some confidence in the Good News.
“The pressures of a changing society have come upon everybody who calls Aotearoa New Zealand home. We’ve started to believe what some government policy and some state perspective have suggested to us — that Christianity is no longer at the heart of our nation,” she said.
She said, though, that anniversaries, such as the upcoming bicentennial, give people a chance to reflect on the future.
She also noted that ecumenical connection is important. “I think we should do our best to be one voice in our communities and to look for every way we can to do things together,” she said.
by ROWENA OREJANA