The Anglican Church is having a fascinating experience as a consequence of its co-governance arrangements.
Just as Alf has foreseen, the Maori bit of the partnership is laying claim to a 50% slice of some church money.
The key player in this money grab is Professor Whatarangi Winiata, a feller who was instrumental in having the Anglican Church structure itself in a racially separatist way.
The three houses of the church, tikanga Maori, tikanga Pakeha and tikanga Pacifica, preside over their own affairs but come together to make decisions affecting the entire church.
The same Professor Winiata was a key player in setting up the Maori Party, which champions race-based claims to the nation’s economic resources, although we Nats are counselled against making much fuss about the Maori Party’s separatist power play.
The story of a Maori claim for a chunk of Anglican Church money has been told here in the NZ Herald in recent days.
An educationist is asking the upcoming Anglican general synod for half the $315 million worth of assets in a church trust, claiming the Anglican hierarchy didn’t do enough to save or support dying Maori boarding schools.
Professor Whatarangi Winiata, who established the tertiary institution Te Wananga o Raukawa, is responsible for a motion asking that 50 per cent of the St John’s College Trust Board’s assets be put under the control of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa – the Maori partner and one of the three arms of the church.
The two other arms represent Pakeha and Pasifika, all three due to meet in Fiji from next Saturday for the two-yearly conference.
Professor Winiata’s pretext is his claim that the Anglican boarding schools of St Stephens, Queen Victoria, Te Waipounamu and Hukarere have all closed as a result of inadequate funding.
Sure, Hukarere has reopened, but it and Te Aute are financially struggling.
Professor Winiata’s ambitions, regarding the trust money, are not new.
They were aired here a few months ago in Anglican Taonga.
That’s a rag published by the Anglican Commission on Communications “and distributed to all parishes and agencies of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia – Te Hahi Mihinare ki Aotearoa ki Niu Tireni ki nga Moutere o Te Moana Nui a Kiwa”.
Those words give the firm impression Aotearoa and New Zealand are different countries. Probably they are, when seen through the church’s racially divisive spectacles.
Anyway, back in November the church’s communicators were reporting:
Te Pihopatanga is to make a serious claim for 50% of the $300 million putea held in the church’s treasure chest – the St John’s College Trust.
They will present a case to next July’s General Synod after Professor Whatarangi Winiata argued today that the St John’s College Trust had an obligation to support Maori Anglican schools – and had mostly failed to do so.
So what’s the objective?
Professor Winiata later said the resolution was about achieving “Maori control over a share of the accumulated surpluses.”
Getting this control of the money won’t be a pushover, however.
Neither Professor Winiata, nor the seconder of the Pihopatanga resolution, Turi Hollis, underestimate the scale of the challenges before their proposition.
In the first place, Tikanga Maori must persuade General Synod of the merits of the resolution.
Even if General Synod does adopt the resolution, the St John’s College Trust Board – which is an independent legal entity, governed by its own trust deed – will make its own decision..
Professor Winiata puts it this way: “General Synod will decide how much instruction it will give to the St John’s College Trust Board.”
The final step would need to be taken in Parliament, which is the only body that can amend the St John’s College Trusts Act in the way the Pihopatanga resolution seeks.
How the Anglican Church has found itself in this situation is fascinating.
It changed its constitution in 1992, creating three “tikanga” as equal partners, each with its own social organisations, language, laws, principles and procedure.
Individuals are free to practise their faith in any tikanga.
But hey – other cultural groups, such as Chinese Anglicans, didn’t get a tikanga.
And Alf can’t find any mention of the Church in the Treaty of Waitangi, although he is told it’s “implied”.
Come to think of it, he can’t find much mention in his Bible of preachings that (as some Maori want) would allow for Maori spirituality and traditional animist gods to be included in their Christian faith, let alone any texts to help reconcile leadership based on mana with Jesus’ call to humility.
But what have been the social consequences of the church’s structural set-up on race lines?
Why, the church has succeeded in keeping the races apart.
According to Graeme J. Davidson, writing a few years ago here about discontent in the pews-
Only the few at the upper echelons of leadership, the General Synod, its committees and St. John’s Theological College in Auckland, meet, worship and talk shop with other tikanga. The church magazine, Anglican Taonga, often sits unread as it’s full of what the leaders in the three tikanga are doing – remote and unhelpful to Anglicans in the pews trying to be Christians in the world.
Recently, lay representatives at the Wellington Diocesan Synod voted overwhelmingly for the following motion: “That this Synod respectfully requests our General Synod representatives, at the next meeting of the General Synod in Christchurch in 2006, to put forward the case for the dissolving of the present three tikanga constitution, and to press for its replacement by an inclusive constitution that embodies the teachings of Colossians 3 that our collective identity in Christ takes precedence over our ethnic origins, blood lines and gender.” When put to the house of clergy it lost by only two votes, which means it will not be taken further this time.
Anglicans in the pews have an uneasy sense that they belong to a church that has instigated a benign form of religious apartheid, the three tikanga acting like church Bantustans. Instead of acting as a single coordinated body, they do their own thing, in their own way, under the control of their own bishops and a remote General Synod. There’s duplication of administration and clergy while overall church membership decreases and puts pressure on scant resources.
Despite plenty of goodwill, the three tikanga form of government isn’t working for the Anglican Church. It’s even less likely to work for the nation.
Ah, but is this Davidson feller a bloody trouble-maker?
A turbulent priest, perhaps.
He was ordained more than 40 years ago and has worked as a priest in the UK, USA and New Zealand.
But when he and his family headed for Havelock North and tried to get a licence to practise, he was denied one.
His attempts to officiate within the Waiapu (central and eastern North Island) diocese, and has correspondence with the Right Rev John Bluck, retiring Bishop of Waiapu, were the subjects of a newspaper report here.
Davidson thinks it’s because the church leaders’ agenda is more political than Christian.
The aforementioned Professor Winiata is credited with being a main architect of the 1992 split in the church’s structure.
He went on to become President of the Maori Party, arguing that the Anglican constitution should serve as a model for our nation’s parliament.
According to Davidson –
He wants two lower houses, one for each partner to the Treaty, who develop legislation within their respective tikanga, and a third upper house that ensures legislation is in keeping with the Treaty.
And let’s face it, the three tikanga or cultural sub-church model is similar to what the Maori political party wants for the governance of New Zealand.
Sure enough, ahead of the 2008 general election, the Maori Party declared it wanted to be Treaty partners rather than coalition partners in any post-election government.
Winiata said a precedent was his restructuring of Anglican church to share power along Treaty lines.
He didn’t mention his designs on 50% of the resources.
But now we know.