Blogs Posts from the Anglican Indigenous Network

Covenant & Promise: Waitangi 2015

6 February 2015

Some reflections from the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi - and a resolute rejection of the claim that Christian faith colonised Maori culture.

The full article can be found here

Anglican Taonga Advent 2014

20 November 2014

Download the pdf from here

Oxfam 100km Walk 2014, Taupo NZ

1 November 2014

Oxfam 100km Walk 2014, Taupo NZ

In 2014 a team of dedicated Anglicans from Te Hui Amorangi o Tai Tokerau took part in the Oxfam 100km walk held in Taupo, Aotearoa, NZ.

Oxfam is an international relief organisation that was founded in Oxford, England in 1942 by a group of Quakers and social activists in support of famine relief. Oxfam’s aim is to work for greater impact on the international stage to reduce poverty and injustice in developing communities. Oxfam puts projects and people on the ground in locations where the work of Jesus is needed and helps to build stronger communities. The aim of this year’s “For All the Saints Team” was to help raise funds so Oxfam can continue this important ministry.

The name “For All the Saints Team” is taken from the Anglican calendar which celebrates our church’s most recognised servants. The memory and spirit of those servants is honoured by using this name. When heading south to Taupo to participate in the trailwalker event the team called in to pay their respects at the grave of Tarore, whom the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand commemorates each year on 19 October.

“For All the Saints Team” for Oxfam was originally formed in 2012 at St John’s Theological College in Auckland, Aotearoa, New Zealand by students inspired by Oxfam’s ministry and the challenge of participating in an endurance event.

The “For All the Saints Team” that participated this year in the Oxfam 100 kilometre Trailwalker event in Taupo raised $4,000 for Oxfam. This year’s team was made up of members from Te Hui Amorangi o Tai Tokerau and was also the recipient of financial assistance and support of Te Hui Amorangi o Tai Tokerau, (Māori Anglican pastorates from Auckland to the most northern cape of Aotearoa), further fundraising held by the team at St John’s College, and individuals, who included church, family, and anonymous donors.

The Trailwalker 100 km event in Taupo is a major annual fundraising activity for Oxfam which brings around 1 million dollars. It is very well organised, now in its 9th year. With over 265 teams participating, each of four people, plus their support crews and vehicles it is a major logistical challenge for the organisers. Events of this scale can only take place with a dedicated team of staff, and an army of volunteers and supporters each playing their part in making it a success. Trailwalker was the major event in Taupo that weekend, so the participants and their support crews literally took over the town from the Friday through to the Sunday afternoon. It is a tribute to Oxfam’s initiative and organisational skills that the event functions so well. This year’s event also included a team participating from Hong Kong and a team of Nepalese Army Ghurkhas.

“For All the Saints Team” 2014 Trailwalker participants and support crew include Kerry Davis, Lynnore Pikaahu, Rev. Tony Brooking, Rev. Glen Popata, Rev. Jacynthia Murphy, Rev. Stan Pilbrow, and Manaaki Popata.

The following clip shows “For All the Saints” and their experience at the Taupo Oxfam event.

New UN document opens door for churches to do more for indigenous rights

23 September 2014

New UN document opens door for churches to do more for indigenous rights

[WCC] Scattered throughout the recent history of Indigenous Peoples are nationaltreaties, declarations and laws that languish in obscurity or are brushed aside and ignored.

Adding insult to injury, when many national and local churches attempt to speak out about the denial of rights of Indigenous Peoples they are told by governments that the church has no place in politics, effectively being seen but not heard.

Yet a new "outcome document" of the United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples is about to turn that perspective on its head. The world’s governments are now inviting churches and other civil society groups to be seen and heard when it comes to advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ human rights.

For ecumenical representatives of indigenous faith communities who attended the UN conference, held in New York on 22 and 23 September, and other side events, the six-page outcome document is significantly lending motivation and teeth to a movement that has sought to secure the rights of Indigenous People's around the world.

The document was agreed upon by all UN member states on Monday, 22 September, and reinforces the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), effectively turning a page where governments are concerned.

"Through the document, the nations of the world state that the well-being of Indigenous Peoples is essential to the well-being of the planet," Bishop Mark MacDonald of the Anglican Church of Canada said. MacDonald is the first National Indigenous Anglican Bishop of Canada.

MacDonald also said that the governments agreed to a partnership with Indigenous Peoples, and the document requires the church and other members of civil society to enter into that partnership and advocate for the commitments of the document.

The document, which is essentially the governments of the world speaking to themselves, civil society and others, and to Indigenous Peoples, covers a wide swath of concerns, including ensuring  basic human rights;  consulting and cooperating with Indigenous Peoples when crucial economic decisions are made in their communities; providing improved access to education, health and work; empowerment of youth; addressing social needs; free and informed consent; and the development of national "action plans" inclusive of the needs of Indigenous Peoples.

Churches and Indigenous Peoples

"The church has a special responsibility both in light of its fundamental mission as a body but also its historic relationship with Indigenous Peoples," MacDonald said.

"This is not only an affirmation of the declaration adopted in 2007, but it is a new commitment of the member states that they will now take intentional and systematic action," Rev. Tore Johnsen, general secretary of the Sami Church Council in Norway, said. "At least in words they are committing themselves."

For Johnsen and his colleagues, when the states say in the document that they encourage civil society to advocate, that means the churches need "to take an active role in promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples."

"For the churches that also means taking an active role in holding the nation states accountable," Johnsen said.

At the same time, he admits, "this can easily be cosmetic," referring to one potential outcome of the document. But that need not be the case. "The church has a strong moral voice," he said.

May Vargas of the Philippines, and a member of the ecumenical team, welcomed encouragement by the state for the church and other groups to be engaged. In her context, where there has been significant violence inflicted upon indigenous populations because of land resources, the church becomes a "sanctuary for the poor and the oppressed," as some of the churches are doing there.

Both Vargas and Johnsen saw a clear role for the church to play in the situation of extractive industries, such as mining of minerals, oil and gas, and the situation of violence against Indigenous women and children.

In such direct and real situations, the group stated, with the support of churches and willingness of the governments to follow through, implementation of the document could have a positive impact.

"It is also important to say that this resonates very much with the World Council of Churches, which has in many instances lifted up the issue of indigenous rights," Johnsen said. He suggested that the document opens the door for the WCC to pay "specific attention to Indigenous Peoples’ rights."

WCC minute on Indigenous Peoples

UN Outcome Document from the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous faith leaders reflect on resilience and climate change

23 September 2014

[WCC] Indigenous peoples have a role to play in the struggle against climate change, indigenous faith leaders said during a panel at the Interfaith Summit on Climate Change held at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.

As those gathered at the Church Center listened to the words of three indigenous leaders, the General Assembly of the UN was holding the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples at the UN headquarters across the street.

“It’s the first time ever we've had a high level conference at the UN on indigenous peoples,” said Tore Johnsen, general secretary of the Sami Church Council in Norway. “And I think when I’m leaving there: this is a space where politics and spirituality come together in a very powerful way.”

The panel discussion formed part of the Interfaith Summit on Climate Change jointly hosted by the World Council of Churches and Religions for Peace in advance of the UN Climate Summit held on 23 September.

“Indigenous people are important climate witnesses,” Johnsen said. “In living close to the natural environment, indigenous people have said for a long time that change is going on.”

Few of those gathered knew the effects of climate change firsthand as well as Rev. Tafue Lusama from Tuvalu, a small island nation made up of islands and atolls in the South Pacific Ocean.

The problem of climate change “is far too big”, Lusama said. “Our lands can no longer sustain us because traditionally we depend on the underground water table for our plantations.” Salt water has been intruding into the fresh water table, which means “we can no longer plant,” he said. “The sea can no longer supply us with adequate protein supply.” And rising sea levels mean the low-lying islands are in danger of being lost beneath the waves.

“You can migrate anywhere if you can say ‘I am from Tuvalu.’ But you cannot do that if your country has vanished from the face of the earth.”

Indigenous communities have been known for overcoming great adversity, said Priestess Beatriz Schulthess, president of the Indigenous Peoples Ancestral Spiritual Council and a member of the Kolla Nation in northern Argentina.

“When you overcome adversity you come out much stronger.” Yet, she said, “resilience is not only a matter of individuals. It is a matter for all people on this planet at this time.”

Individuals and communities to promote “reconciliation between people and the natural world,” Johnsen said. “Part of indigenous resilience is to resist ideologies that compartmentalize reality in a way that makes the earth an object and a resource for our own development. There will be no peace as long as we are waging war against the earth.”

“We had yesterday lots of messages of hope,” Schulthess said. “And also messages of love. Nature needs our love, too. Mother Earth needs our love, too.”

The panel was one of four discussion panels held on Monday. The summit began on Sunday 21 September with the signing of a joint statement on climate change by some 30 interfaith leaders from around the world.

WCC news release written by Connie Wardle, senior writer and online editor at the Presbyterian Record, Canada.

Interfaith declaration on climate change (WCC news release of 22 September 2014)

Website of the Interfaith Summit on Climate Change

WCC’s work on climate justice and care for creation