E te iwi whakapono, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.
I love our Cathedral.
It is an intimate yet solemn, personal yet communal, sacred place and is the mother Church of our diocese.
Ever since the Year of Faith, we have endeavoured to keep the main doors open. That gesture symbolises who we are as God’s people on earth. When I sit in there praying Morning Prayer (a part of the official Church daily prayers), I am intrigued by the number and variety of people who come through those doors. They know that here the hand of God and the hand of community is extended to them.
When Suzanne Aubert, aged 25, stepped off the boat (in September 1860) which had brought her to New Zealand from France as a young adult, the first hands extended to her were Māori. The Church’s beginnings in Aotearoa were a mix of French missionaries and the tangata whenua or Māori people. Bishop Pompallier’s and Suzanne Aubert’s first language was French and second language was Māori. Some years later with the arrival of Irish settlers English became important too.
The Church therefore in our nation has right from its very earliest expressions been bicultural. I like to think of the Treaty of Waitangi as being of a secondary importance for we Katorika or Catholics of Aotearoa New Zealand: because of the nature of our one faith we were – from the arrival of the first “pāhekā” settlers – already a bicultural community.
Subsequent years of New Zealand history has of course brought all the joy of many other cultures enlivening our Church.
A vibrant sign of the presence and participation of Māori in our faith communities is the growing practice of celebrating Mass in Maori – Miha Māori – from time to time in our main Churches. The Cathedral should lead in this expression of who we are. I’m most grateful therefore that over a few years now various people including Deacon Danny and Maru Karatea Goddard and of the Māori Apostolate Board and people like Melissa Paul up in Wairoa, have been encouraging me to learn to celebrate Mass in Māori and equally important to foster friendships with our Katorika Māori. For a white boy from Christchurch, the former has been difficult yet the latter has been a source of great growth, insight and joy for me.
This Sunday, September 2nd, the 9:30am Mass at the Cathedral will be a Miha Māori. While this is certainly not the first time that Mass has been celebrated in Te Reo Māori at the Cathedral, the intentionality of making this a Miha Māori is I think a first. That is a cause for celebration and also I want to admit a point of some shame for me (that it has taken so long). Thanks to all those who are making this Miha happen.
Kia tau ngā manaakitanga o te Ariki ki runga ki ā koutou,