Renaissance of te reo Maori

A story published in the New York Times has put the spotlight on the renaissance of te reo Maori which has been underway for at least a decade. It’s encouraging to see this taonga enlivened with a new generation of speakers emerging.

Some interesting questions arise:

  • How can the revitalisation of te reo contribute towards a new understanding of what it means to be a New Zealander in the 21st century?
  • What does it mean in terms of learning from the best of other cultures – including the value placed on the land, water, rivers, the interdependence of generations, welcoming hospitality and the stewardship or kaitiakitanga of the environment?



NZ Anglican leaders reject Aussie proposal

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An Anglican News report published this week revealed their rationale for rejecting a proposal from the Archbishop of Sydney, Glen Davies, for an overlapping jurisdiction. The proposal was made in order to provide support for those parishes who are leaving the New Zealand Anglican Church in the wake of recent decisions.

Overlapping jurisdictions are not new to the kiwi Anglicans. In fact it currently has them as a core part of its governance structure – the three tikanga model.

So then what was the rationale advanced for turning down the proposal? In defending its decision the Anglican General Synod leadership said:

” that it (the NZ Anglican Church)  is a Church built on a history of “colonised and coloniser.”

“Anglicans in this province have grappled – with limited success – with what ‘distinctive coexistence’ means for more than 200 years. We have grappled with what it means to live with people who God made differently to us. A people who don’t see things as we do, nor share our understandings or experiences or values. Sadly, a lack of compassion by the settler church led it to being complicit in the marginalising of God’s people in their own country. We have sinned in ignorance, we have sinned in weakness, we have sinned through our own deliberate fault.

“Only in the later portion of that 200 years, after decades of struggle, have we arrived at a constitution which enshrines respectful ways of being church together.”

The constitution of the Church in ANZP sets out three tikangas, or cultural streams, with Pākehā (European cultural) dioceses overlapping with Māori hui amorangi on the islands of Aotearoa / New Zealand and the Diocese of Polynesia serving the more distant islands. Each tikanga is led by an Archbishop who is a Primate of equal status with the others.

“As a Church we continue to be challenged by enormous internal and external inequities: we are a reflection of our society”, the two archbishops said. To be Anglican in this land requires that we, led by our Lord Jesus Christ, face into this shared history so that we can help shape a common future for all people based on peace and justice and righteousness.”

Interesting questions arise from this development:

  • should the Church be a “reflection of the society around it”?
  • how is Church unity fostered and on what basis?
  • How can the Church best work towards ending historical injustice and strengthening racial harmony and unity in its own ranks and across the nation?


Care for the Environment: the global issue of the decade

Care for the environment is the issue of the decade. Urgent action must be taken very soon if we are to avert a global crisis.
At the heart of Pope Francis’ recent message for the IV annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is water.  The Pope underlines that “access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right.” He also draws attention to the fact that access for many people is either difficult or impossible. Noting the fundamental role of water in creation and human development, the Pontiff stresses that it is precisely for this reason that “care for water sources and water basins is an urgent imperative.”
He goes on to say, there is an urgent need for “shared projects and concrete gestures that recognize that every privatization of the natural good of water, at the expense of the human right to have access to this good, is unacceptable.”

Threats to Seas and Oceans

In his message, the Pope says that, “we cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic.  We need to pray as if everything depended on God’s providence, and work as if everything depended on us.”
Pope Francis then invites those in positions of authority, to look with a farsighted approach at, what he calls “the more sensitive questions of our day, such as those linked to movements of migration, climate change”.

Practical policy responses:

Plant more permanent forests to act as carbon sinks, limit soil erosion and reduce agricultural run off.

Encourage landowners to let non-viable farm land revert to native forests in order to create carbon sinks.

Investigate an international resettlement plan to allow climate migrants to relocate where they are unable to live in their homelands due to rising sea levels. Give priority to Pacific Island nations.

Boost Crown Research Institutes funding to test and research the health and well being of NZ soils.

Fund Regional Councils to clean up all of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers.

Encourage a reduction in dependent pesticides.

Assist poorer communities and local authorities with the improvement (or provision) of wastewater and sewerage treatment facilities.

New Zealand has been blessed with a wonderful environment. We have a responsibility to look after it.


Housing: still unresolved

pexels-photo-731082.jpegThe cost of home ownership remains astronomically high. The amount of debt being taken on by first home buyers is mind-boggling. One international analyst warns that the mortgage debt levels in New Zealand are not sustainable. Another Report published in February warned that New Zealand was “quickly becoming a society divided by the ownership of housing and its related wealth”.  In one key finding, it found up to 90 percent of people seeking emergency shelter were being turned away.

There is no doubt that housing was one of the top issues in the 2017 General Election. In a country that has an abundance of land, timber and young people wanting to learn a trade we should be able to house all our people in warm, safe and dry homes. There are some things that the previous government could have done much earlier. Things like:

  • A mandatory warrant of fitness for all rented houses to ensure that all dwellings meet a certain minimum standard where it is safe for people to live
  • A Rent to Own scheme where tenants can put a portion of their rent towards a deposit on the home they are renting.
  • A large-scale State housing build programme. We need to maximize the number of houses that are being built with government funding and a portion of them must be set aside for those who cannot afford market rents.
  • Alcohol and drug counselling and treatment for those who need it
  • Budget advice service for those who fall behind with their rents
  • An end to sale of State Housing and land – at least until all New Zealanders are properly housed.

Even now there are some specific solutions which could be adopted in Auckland to overcome the housing crisis. Among them:

  • sort out roads, rail, buses and water
  • focus on the compact city
  • strengthen the building industry with longer term planning and stronger links between trade training providers and construction companies.
  • build more smaller houses and design to promote community.

No one expects to solve a problem that developed over two decades to be solved in two years but the government will be expected to demonstrate that it has a clear plan, with timelines, the means to pay for it, and substantial progress on implementation of well-considered solutions.

International Women’s Day

womens rightsThis week we celebrated International Women’s Day. It’s a time to celebrate the achievements of women all around the world.  It’s also a time to continue to ensure that all women are afforded dignity and respect as people made in the image of God. 

Unfortunately in many parts of the world human rights are still not upheld and women are often the victims of such failures. In many countries around the world access to property, education and health services are not available on an equal basis. So what can we do about this?  Well in the Pacific region charities like Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand are helping women in Timor Leste to develop their own businesses and to receive training in marketing and business planning so that they have greater economic empowerment.  You can donate to the work for women and children through Caritas at

However, the challenges are also closer to home. In New Zealand, Women’s suffrage was granted after about two decades of campaigning throughout New Zealand, by women who included Kate Sheppard and Mary Ann Müller. The New Zealand branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union led by Anne Ward was particularly instrumental in the campaign. Influenced by the American branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement the movement argued that women could bring morality into democratic politics.  Opponents argued instead that politics was outside women’s ‘natural sphere’ of the home and family. Suffrage advocates countered that allowing women to vote would encourage policies which protected and nurtured families.  Eventually they succeeded. In 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. This one of the great achievements of the movement for human equality which is rightly be celebrated during International Women’s Day. 

But there is still work to be done if we support equality. Many female workers in New Zealand work in occupations that are more than 80% female and these female-dominated occupations tend to be lower paid. Women are under-represented in higher-level jobs.  The gender pay gap is a high level indicator of the difference between women and men’s earnings. Factors that contribute to the gender pay gap are:

  • the jobs women do: while there are some notable exceptions in New Zealand today, women are more likely to be clustered in a narrow range of occupations and at the bottom or middle of an organisation. Women remain underrepresented in many professions including engineering, law, information Technology and business management in large Companies.
  • the value put on women’s jobs: the skills and knowledge that women contribute in female-dominated occupations may not be recognised or valued appropriately in comparison to other jobs
  • work arrangements and caring responsibilities: more women combine primary care giving with part-time work, which tends to be more readily available in lower paid occupations and positions.

This needs to change so that the contributions of women to a cohesive and democratic society are valued as much as those of their male counterparts. But I would argue too that it needs to go further than simply ensuring that women get appointed to demanding high paid jobs on the same basis as men do today. Perhaps its also time to look at the whole nature of work and the way workplaces operate. Perhaps the underlying capitalist values of workplaces need to move away from “efficiency” and “profit above all” – towards an environment that promotes care for people and welcomes the contribution that each person makes – regardless of gender.

“I raise up my voice – not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”  – Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani women’s activist and youngest Nobel Prize laureate

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
– Mother Teresa, Nobel Peace Prize laureate

New generation of ‘never smokers’ emerges


NZ Herald   reported today that youth smoking rates have dropped by a third in the last year, as a new generation of “never-smokers” emerges, Ministry of Health figures reveal.

The figures showed the number of 15 to 17-year-olds smoking fell from 12,000 last year to 8000 – meaning 3.9 per cent of those in the age group are smokers. A decade ago 35,000 people aged 15 to 17 had taken up the habit.