Covenant faces rejection in NZ after Maoris vote against

10 November 2011

by a staff reporter

MAORI Anglicans have voted against the Anglican Covenant, which means that the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is poised to become the first province to reject it.

The Covenant is being voted on by dioceses in New Zealand, but it also has to be approved by each of the three Tikanga, or cultural streams: Maori, Pakeha (European), and Pasifika. But a crucial vote by Tikanga Maori at its biennial runanganui (synod) last weekend effectively binds all Maori representatives at the General Synod next July to say no to the Covenant, the Anglican Taonga, the New Zealand Anglican newspaper, reports.

Two of the five Maori dioceses have already rejected the Covenant, largely on the grounds that it could compromise Maori rangatira­tanga (sovereignty).

The Ven. Turi Hollis, an adviser on training at the University of Canterbury, said that the Covenant applied at provincial level, and that “if one diocese makes a decision that another objects to, then the whole province will be held accountable.

“We are being asked to conform to the standards of the rest of the world. Yet we have a constitution that the rest of the world does not understand. Would that have been agreed to, had the Covenant been in force? The proposed Covenant is trying to impose on us something that should be based on relation­ship — on whanaungatanga or manaakit­anga.”

The Revd Don Tamihere, the Dean of Te Taapapa ki Te Tairawhiti and the Centre for Biblical Studies at Te Rau College, Gisborne, said that the Covenant was not about homo­sexuality. He said: “It is about compliance and control.

“We are being asked to sign over our sov­ereignty, our rangatiratanga, to an overseas group — to a standing committee over whom we have no choice or control. And they have the power to recommend punishment.”

Tikanga Pakeha dioceses are split on the measure: Wellington, Nelson, and Waikato-Taranaki have expressed qualified support; Auckland, Waiapu, and Dunedin have rejected it.

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