In the last “Hope for the Future” talk organised by the Anglican Community of St Mark, Lyndon Drake, Archdeacon of Tāmaki Makaurau in the Māori Anglican bishopric of Te Tai Tokerau, gave his thoughts on the future of the Church. He is mainly involved in mission to Māori. For him that is a rich mission field on two grounds: Māori need Jesus just like everyone else; the way that society is going in New Zealand, Māori voices can influence the culture more profoundly than other voices.
I have experienced that myself. In the public sphere a vicar in past years would be present at important occasions and would lead with a prayer and possibly a blessing. That is no longer the case. But at many occasions there are karakia and blessings, often done by kaumātua. If those karakia have a Christian basis, they influence our culture and are signs of God’s presence even among the greater secular culture that denies God.
Sometimes a local vicar is also invited to open with a karakia. Then it’s important to have some basic knowledge of te reo Māori, with a continuation of the prayer in English.
I have noticed that at my children’s school the Christian faith is normally carefully avoided. But when the children come together to sing, they normally sing Māori songs, some of them very Christian. One example is the song “He honore”. Through Māori Christians expressing their faith in song, this message now forms part of education in a secular setting. I hope that through these little signs children may be pointed to Christ.
It therefore continues to be important that Māori are impacted with the Gospel. In general, Māori culture is more “spiritual” than modern global culture, but as Lyndon Drake said, it is crucial where these spiritual energies are directed. I think it is important that we take these larger considerations into account as we interact with our Māori brothers and sisters and encourage Tikanga Māori to be faithful to the Gospel.