Thursday 1 November 2012

News from New Zealand - 6

Thursday 1 November - Today I presided at the daily Mass at the cathedral for the delegates and others who attend our services. All Saints day is special for many people. We remember Saints as those who have gone before us and are exemplar to our faith journey, the ‘cloud of all witnesses’ before and around us. We also acknowledge (reflecting the language of St Paul’s letters) our potential to be Saints for those who will come after us. It is always a joyous occasion for my family as our daughter was born on this day; and, if we are together with my wife's school (DSG, in Grahamstown), we always get to sing that great hymn ‘For all the saints, who from their labours rest …

The Saints trod this earth before they were recalled by our Maker. Today we had an excursion, and in the bus we were told the long account of the issues of the Maori land, and of the pain of dislocation caused by the wars which were fought in this land. Our destination, for which we set off after the holy mysteries, was Te Kingitanga, the Maori King Movement, and its head, the monarch, His Majesty Tuheitia and his wife. He occupies a modest piece of land and palace. He warmly received us, and fed us well. His staff was happy to know that there was a team from South Africa and requested that we have a picture with the King and his wife under a protea tree which was planted by President Mandela when he visited them. It was an honour to make another connection with this land, seeing a protea tree doing well in this climate. It was even more special because it was planted by Madiba, son of the African soil, who was so commited to global peace with justice. As he said, in the famous words of his defence statement at the Rivonia Trial, repeated on his release, ‘I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’ I was also reminded of other wise words of his, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ I felt that Madiba’s values held true, as I heard of the Maori quest for land reparation, and sensed the yearning in the voices of our guide on the bus, and of the King’s staff.

This context, together with our drive along the longest river in New Zealand, which also enabled us to see the mountains in all their spring beauty, set the scene well for our discussions this evening. We ended the day with a public forum on the environment, chaired by our beloved Archbishop of Canterbury. As chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, I served on our panel, alongside Bishop Apimeleki Qiliho of Fiji, and Anglican Alliance director Sally Keeble We looked at the nexus of food, energy, water and environmental crises, and agreed that tackling this complex interplay of factors needs moral courage by all Christians. We heard stories from the Pacific, Africa and other parts of the globe, and affirmed that we have a biblical mandate to ensure justice in any structures and systems that threaten to destroy the planet, our home. Equally we agreed that this is a human matter and needs a human response. There are practical steps that we can take as individual and collectively. These included using our theological tools and biblical knowledge to open discussions on the issues of environmental crisis, informing ourselves, acting in a manner that is aware that our resources are not limitless, and ensuring ethical investment .

In May last year, on attending a World Economic Summit Africa meeting, I wrote an article entitled, ‘Climate change is a moral imperative for all’, which still remains relevant today. You can read at We need both love and courage to advocate for good stewardship of our environment. Difficult question were raised tonight, such as why some are left so debilitatingly without water, food and energy whilst others have more than enough, and remain silent. What of the current world economic order as well as social order around our planet? We need clear, bold, and courageous voices that continue to speak up and speak out for the displaced, the poor and the hungry and also for creation.

Do surf the Anglican Communion Environment Network site for more information ( You might like to ask yourself, what are some of the environmental changes that are now evident on your context? What do you think ought to be done about these? May the cloud of witnesses that has gone before us join us as we seek peace with justice and harmony in this planet. May God grant the King justice and righteousness in all he does, and may indeed justice and peace kiss each other (Ps 85:10) as we faithfully restore our world back to God.

Finally, Happy Birthday to my daughter, Pabi who turned 13 today! Wow! May she and her children's children find a place to live and worship God, safely passed on from our generation.