The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference has appointed educational leader Dr Areti Metuamate as the inaugural chief executive of Te Kupenga — Catholic Leadership Institute.
NZCBC president Bishop Patrick Dunn said he is delighted with the appointment.
“Dr Metuamate has emerged as the best candidate from a rigorous selection process. He is a personable and capable man, with the vision, energy and relationship skills needed to get the new organisation up and running,” said Bishop Dunn.
“Areti’s appointment will help drive visibility and growth for Te Kupenga among Māori, Pasifika, younger people and other important communities within our increasingly diverse Church and society.”
The bishop said Dr Metuamate “will bring a contemporary style and quality of leadership to a new organisation that seeks to engage the Catholic and wider communities in ways that are authentic and resonant for our time”.
Te Kupenga was formed on January 1 in a merger of Good Shepherd College with The Catholic Institute. It has three operating units — Catholic Theological College (for tertiary courses and qualifications), National Centre for Religious Studies, and the Nathaniel Centre for Catholic Bioethics.
Dr Metuamate said he is honoured to have been appointed and is excited to be back home after a decade in Australia. He is currently based in Adelaide and will return to Wellington next month.
“It feels like the right time to return home to bring the learning and experience I have gained after 10 years working in Australian universities and organisations. The opportunity to play a leadership role in shaping Te Kupenga and ensuring it connects and appeals to more of our people is also a key motivation for me,” he added.
He revealed that he and his wife are expecting a son, to be born in March.
“Being based amongst whanau is important for us,” said Dr Metuamate who is of Ngati Kauwhata, Ngati Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngati Haua and Cook Islands descent.
Dr Metuamate held advisory and leadership roles in both the public and tertiary education sectors, most recently as dean of St Mark’s College in Adelaide, South Australia.
He was raised in Feilding where he attended Hato Pāora College. He graduated from Victoria University of Wellington and the Australian National University, where his PhD was in Pacific leadership.
His wife, Dr Jessa Rogers-Metuamate, is a distinguished indigenous academic, educator and artist from Australia’s Wiradjuri peoples, whose international research has included working with students of St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College in Napier.
The bishops chose “Te Kupenga – Catholic Leadership Institute” as the name for the new organisation after careful thought and consultation with staff and students, noted an NZCBC media release late last year.
Te Kupenga means “the net” or “the fishing net” and harks to the first four disciples of Jesus — Andrew, Peter, James and John. They were called from their boats and nets to become fishers for Jesus’ kingdom with the same care, dedication and skill they brought to their fishing.
Bishop Dunn said the name resonates strongly with Pope Francis’ call to the Church to revive its missionary spirit and purpose.
“Te Kupenga will put out into the deep and cast our net wide,” said Bishop Dunn.
The bishops intend the name to also reflect a contemporary reference to networking, online learning, and linking with others collegially.
They expect the new institute to play a vital role in training, educating and forming Catholic seminarians and lay leaders.