by Fr BERNARD DENNEHY

The Bi-Cultural Committee of the Justice and Peace Commission for Auckland diocese was delighted to have initiated the first Hui Māori Katorika of this nature held at Whai Ora Marae in Otara on November 17-18.

Participants numbered about 60, arriving from Wellington, Dunedin, Hamilton, Kaitaia, Pawarenga, Mitimiti, Motukaraka, Waiuku, Moerewa, Kerikeri, south Auckland, west Auckland and Waiheke.

The three keynote speakers – Sr Tui Cadigan, RSM, Professor Peter Lineham and Deacon Danny Karatea-Goddard – all gave wonderful presentations.

The two questions posed to them were: “What needs to happen to strengthen mana Māori within the Catholic Church of the Auckland Diocese” and “What leadership structure do we need to assist us to develop and grow?”

Sr Tui issued an invitation to think more about strengthening and enriching identity – Māori and Catholic – by deepening the knowledge base through theology and learnings. To excite, uplift, be ready willing and able in various roles and responsibilities and put the local Māori Pastoral Care plan into action and not out to pasture. She questioned whether there is a Māori leadership structure in the Auckland diocese. A new Māori Diocesan Pastoral Council would be one possibility.  But, where are the personnel and the resources?

Professor Lineham’s setting out of facts, figures, timelines, power point presentation and storytelling captivated his audience. He went on to say that the past gives possibilities and from this past an amazing recovery of the spirit, especially in the story of the ordinary folk, faithful people who made a great change in a direction to Christ.  In history there is a story of conversion and the creation of a Christian people especially in the Hokianga. He made reference to the book written by Melissa Williams “Panguru to the City” which highlights some of the reasons for the rise of Māori Catholics and the steep declines today. Migration to the cities and towns is pivotal.

Deacon Karatea-Goddard, who is married, put his whole self out there with presence, movement, korero, waiata, fun, laughter and left the last question for the participants:  A married deacon, is that the best way to go for the Auckland diocese to strengthen mana Māori in the Catholic Church and lead the way? He iwi tūmanako tātou (a “people of hope”) was his lead in. Dare to be Māori, grow your own, he said to those at the hui, through revitalisation of te reo (the language), that we may have Katorika kura Māori – Māori-speaking Catholic schools, as in Otaki. A modern challenge would be the Catholic diversities that exist in rural and urban areas but he encouraged Māori to unite and identify a future for 20 years’ time that reflects mana Māori and Katorika (Catholicism) that is unique and authentic to being Māori and Catholic.

Participants were then asked to work in groups and discuss, plan, raise, put forward solutions and  ideas, moving forward from here after hearing the three presenters’ korero (talks).

Six groups fed back the strong themes that look likely to be focused upon in future:  more spiritual direction and education for Katekita Leaders (catechist leaders), encouraging youth with innovative, exciting activities that will capture their minds hearts and spirits, more following in the footsteps of Christ in Christlike ways, a call for hohourongo-reconciliation between the diocese and Katorika Māori (Catholic Māori). Groups expressed a preference for katekita (catechists) rather than deacons, and that leadership should be by a team, not just a chosen individual.

The 10 or more Pakeha tauiwi (others) present demonstrated their tautoko and awhi (support) by helping to arrange and host the hui, doing behind the scenes negotiating and helping in the kitchen. This was a sign that there is hope for all. In their group at the hui, they discussed

how they can support mana Māori in parishes, especially by the inclusion of Māori in liturgies.

In concluding, the Bi-Cultural Committee thanks Bishop Patrick Dunn for his presence, Peter Garrick the Justice and Peace Commission secretary, kaumatua and kuia Uncle Pio and Aunty Chrissy and all the whanaunga (relatives), iwi tūmanako (people of hope), and tangata tiriti whanau for their contributions and presence. We thank the ringawera (kitchen workers) and kaimahi (staff) at Whaiora Marae for their awesome manaakitanga – hospitality.

It was uplifting, enhancing, educative and inspiring leading up to the next hui planned for the New Year which will be hosted by the Whangarei parish whanau. There is a need for more in-depth consideration and planning for action.

 

 

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