Esteemed guests gather for inaugural Anglican Indigenous Leadership Initiative Wānanga

As Anglican leaders from across the world begin to gather in Te Matau a Maui in Aotearoa, organisers of the first Anglican Indigenous Leadership Initiative (AILI) are invigorated by the prospect of deep discussion and kinship.

AILI runs over three days, attracting participants from the Pacific Rim, including the prairies of Canada, and the Amazonian rain forest. It begins with a pōwhiri at Te Aute College, south of Hastings, on Monday September 25th, and concludes with a Communion Service on Sunday 1st October.

Hosted by Primate and Pīhopa o Aotearoa, Archbishop Don Tamihere, the summit takes a wānanga approach to gathering and learning, and is less structured and formal than the conferences some of the manuwhiri will have attended in the past. Kōrerorero is interspersed with karakia, waiata, and kai, as guests discover differences, commonalities – and whakawhanaungatanga (one family bound in love) is created in faith.

“We’re aiming through the wānanga to give as many opportunities as we can for people to be heard, to share, and to learn. It’s an indigenous approach to draw out knowledge from one another, as opposed to a Western style with keynotes and speakers,” explains Archbishop Tamihere.

Visitors to our shores for the initiative include Professor Kwok Pui Lan, a leading US-based academic with expertise in post-colonial feminist theology, and Brazilian Archbishop Marinez Bassotto – one of only a handful of female primates worldwide. “She is known to spend days paddling through the waterways of the Amazon to access her congregation.”

Dr Jenny Te Paa Daniel (Te Rarawa) joins from the University of Otago, the first indigenous lay woman appointed to lead an Anglican seminary anywhere in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

“With so many brilliant indigenous leaders in the room, we plan to use our time together to lay a theological and intellectual foundation for the next several years,” Archbishop Tamihere continues. “That could involve any number of things – from mentoring programs for women leaders, to a network of scholars, to establishing a bishops’ conference. Our overarching goal is to gain an understanding of leadership from an Anglican indigenous perspective – one that is inclusive of many voices and worldviews. There are plenty of textbooks that tell us what Anglicanism is, but we’re trying to find a new way to express an indigenous perspective on our faith.”

Material available to guests ahead of the conference, intended to stimulate thinking and ignite discussion, focus on three areas of leadership: renegotiating knowledge, transforming structures and reconciling schooling. “They cover topics such as the shared grief of our colonisation experience through to the immense potential that indigenous worldviews bring to God’s creation,” says Archbishop Tamihere.

Much of the wānanga will be recorded, in either written or video form, in order to document and preserve these important discussions.

“We’re looking forward to a gathering that will take all shapes and all forms,” concludes Archbishop Tamihere, “and trust that the work of the Holy Spirit will guide us.”

AILI Wānanga is being hosted by Kurahautū, the Archbishops’ Wayfinder Unit. Find us at

The AILI Logo – designed by a young Māori artist – represents both weaving traditions and the opening of a basket which alludes to sharing of resources, ideas, and inspiration