A poignant liturgy characterised by light, song, Māori culture and laughter saw Pa Peter Tipene installed as Dean of the Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph in Auckland. Bishop Patrick Dunn was joined at the installation on February 1 by Bishop Denis Browne (who ordained Pa Tipene as priest in 1994), Bishop Richard Umbers from Sydney (who was raised in Papatoetoe) and the Anglican bishop of Te Tai Tokerau, Bishop Koti Pikaahu (a relative of Pa Tipene’s), as well as clergy and parish representatives, especially from Owairaka (Pa Tipene’s former parish) and the Hokianga, plus many from Pa Tipene’s whanau. Also present were representatives from the Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral and from St Matthew-in-the-City.

After a powhiri, opening prayer and readings, Bishop Dunn gave a homily in which he noted the hopes for cathedral following its renovation a decade ago — that it would be a house of God, an icon of Christ, a place of prayer and an oasis of peace. The hope was that it would be for people of all faiths and none.

Bishop Dunn praised the former administrator of the cathedral, Msgr Bernard Kiely, and assistant priest Fr Larry Rustia for the way they helped realise these hopes, in making the cathedral “a place of welcome with your great sense of hospitality”.

“Pa Peter and Fr Sherwin (Lapaan — who was welcomed as the new assistant priest) — you bring your own special gifts and you will enrich this place,” the bishop added.

Pa Tipene was vested with a korowai (cloak), which kaumatua Bobby Newson said was presented on behalf of “the Maori community of Te Unga Waka, of Whaiora, and all the Maori communities of Tamaki Makaurau”.

Other aspects of the service included Pa Tipene being presented with the keys of the cathedral by Bishop Browne, and the gathering around the baptismal font by Catholic and Anglican bishops, some clergy and Anglican representatives, with Pa Tipene lighting hand-held candles, while the congregation sang “Christ be our Light”. Msgr Kiely described this as an acknowledgement of the light of Christian witness.

Bishop Patrick Dunn (left) and Bishop Denis Browne (right) sign Pa Peter Tipene (right, centre) and Fr Sherwin Lapaan with the sign of cross
Bishop Patrick Dunn (left) and Bishop Denis Browne (right) sign Pa Peter Tipene
(right, centre) and Fr Sherwin Lapaan with the sign of cross

Pa Tipene also received signs and symbols of the various ministries at the cathedral from people involved in them.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told the congregation that when he was MP for Roskill, he had known Pa Tipene during his time at Owairaka.

Mr Goff said Owairaka parishioners “told me you were personable, they told me you were a great communicator, they also said you were a very good fundraiser. All of these would have made you perfect to be my campaign manager”.

The mayor said he was “so proud” that Bishop Dunn had described the cathedral as a place of inclusiveness, at a time when world leaders are talking of building walls and excluding people.

Pa Tipene addressed the congregation near the end of the service, and he spoke of his family’s association with the cathedral, including a grandmother who was a member of a Maori Legion of Mary which met in the cathedral sacristy.

Pa Tipene also said that his parents and infant older brother were at the 1962 ordination of Pa Henare Tate at the cathedral. Pa Tipene was in his mother’s womb at the time. “Later that night, Mum looked at Dad and said wouldn’t it be lovely if this baby in my womb was a boy and one day he became a priest,” he said.

Finally, Pa Tipene noted that he and Fr Lapaan would have big shoes to fill following Msgr Kiely and Fr Rustia. “But as I keep telling Bernard, I’ve got big Maori feet,” he laughed.