Flourishing Communities and Peoples

Rauika Editor, Reverend Blythe Cody, shares her reflections on mātauranga and a flourishing Anglican Church.

There have been churches that have made the news recently (you can read examples here and here) for exploiting volunteers while leaders live in luxury. Though the reasons behind these scandals are many and varied, what has been clear is that ensuring that every volunteer, intern, student, pastor and parishioner thrives has not been their motivation. The advancement of the powerful has come at the expense of the marginalised. We may be tempted to distance ourselves from these churches, noting that our canons and governance would likely prevent such excess. However, priorities based in capitalism with a Western understanding of progress, efficiency and relationship have made their way, often unexamined and unquestioned, into these very church canons and governance practices.

Kurahautu Director Dr Hirini Kaa writes, ‘Structures have often been used to exclude and marginalise indigenous peoples. It has been one of the key tools of colonisation. Indigenous ways of knowing and living in the world have been sidelined. Structures have been imposed based on Western thinking. While often unintentional, there has been an assumption that such thinking is Universal or supracultural – rather than completely grounded in Western histories and ideas.’

What can be too astonishing for many within the Anglican Church to accept is the idea that our Canonical structures of governance can be exclusionary.

There is a different path. Indigenous ways include incorporating the land and environment into decision making. Gathering to wānanga – ensuring everyone is heard is often central. These ideas are based on a sense of the sacredness of all creation at a fundamental level. Such decision-making allows for consensus, where authority is grounded in that connection to creation, rather than in an inherited or externally-imposed authority.

Oranga Ake – flourishing communities and peoples – especially in the context of leadership, is the mātauranga potential that Archbishop Don Tamihere envisages for the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia which he briefly articulates in the video below.