St. Stephen's pilgrimage - Hikoi
After church on April 11th parishioners and other interested people travelled to the Waipa district where there is, as described in the 2020 booklet Ka Aowhia Te Rangi, "a rich history poorly known".
This is what one of the self-described "bus pilgrims" wrote about the hikoi:
"Yesterday we went on a busgrimage... a pilgrimage in a bus! Bishop David Moxon took us on a journey around our local district, and a journey through time... Exploring the intersection of the story of Christianity and the stories of Maori, early missionaries, governors, early colonialists and others... therefore our stories! The stories were fascinating, sobering, challenging, inspiring. There were stories of courage, perseverance, massacres, exploration, eccentricity, revenge, friendship, cooperation... and hope. A very good afternoon outing."
Bishop David led us to the redoubt and museum in Pirongia, St John's Church in Te Awamutu and St Paul's Church at Rangiaowhia. The two churches were completed in 1854 and 1856 respectively, built by and for largely Māori communities.
Rangiaowhia, four kilometres east of Te Awamutu was, to quote from 'Ka Aowhia Te Rangi', "a successful well-established, key economic hub for the region and for New Zealand. Its export trade brought wealth for thousands of Māori and more, for colonial settlers". However, it was also the scene of a large scale atrocity during the NZ Wars in 1864 when children, women and elderly were killed there at the hands of colonial troops, many of them burned in their homes and the large raupo church in which they sought refuge.
We learnt from Te Awamutu vicar Rev Julie Guest that at St John's Church there exists a deep and long-standing acknowledgement of the tragedy of the NZ Wars. An historic flag for "Rewi and his people" (referring to the revered Land Wars Chief Rewi Maniapoto) hangs alongside war memorials for WW1 and WW2 (see photo). And in the back of the church there are two tablets, mutual bilingual tributes by combatants from both sides of the war (see photos), saying "Love your enemy".
Kāwhia Te Murāhi, a descendant of Rewi Maniapoto’s father and driving force behind plans to turn the Ōrākau pa and battle site south of Te Awamutu into a place of peace, spoke to our group of "pilgrims". The conversation between all founding peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand was vital, and the Treaty of Waitangi was a partnership yet to be fulfilled he said.
Bishop David echoed this many times in his commentary throughout the afternoon, and in the paper he wrote for the Anglican Parish of Te Awamutu which he handed out at the end of the day back outside St Stephen's Tamahere.
The paper outlines "a draft plan for pilgrims to visit key sites in the Parish, of national and international Christian significance".
In the paper Bishop David wrote: "+We are called to prayerfully pursue peace through justice under God, and to do what we can to learn from tragedy, to create a better world for others and for ourselves: to serve a new creation. Ngāti Maniapoto as an iwi and the people of Ngāti Apakura and Ngāti Hinetu today, want this for all of us, as do many Pakeha Christians today. We aren't called to remain located in pain, but to acknowledge the truth of the past and then move forward redemptively into a new and better future, as Professor Tom Roa has said, a direct descendant of those who died in the flames".
*Thanks to our vicar Rev Sue Burns for her initiative and partnership with Bishop David organising this and the Wiremu Tamihana pilgrimage last year. This is what Sue has to say about her motivation to do so: "I have organised the pilgrimages to explore what it means to be Christians in these days in Aotearoa. They are a significant new thing for us to live out our vision to be people of God's justice, peace and reconciliation by looking at our history and responding to it."
Foodbank Collection Point
St Stephen's churchgoers donate goods for the Hamilton Combined Christian Foodbank each Sunday. We'd like to extend the opportunity for the wider community to contribute. A large container with a lid will be placed at our entrance under the book swap library, between 9.30 and 11 am each Sunday. Help us share the love during these tough times.