This Sunday is Te Pouhere Sunday, a day set aside by the General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui to celebrate the adoption of our a revised Constitution / Te Pouhere in May 1992, which established our three-Tikanga Church.
Our first constitution was agreed to in June 1857, by a general conference held in Auckland. This allowed the Anglican Church in New Zealand to become an autonomous province with the right to create its own structures and appoint its own bishops. This constitution was a radical piece of work, offering a balance between diocesan and general synods, and establishing a synodical form of government which allowed bishops, clergy and laity equal voice in the decision making processes. It caused a lot of disquiet in the mother church.
Sadly no Maori were present at this conference or at the first General Synod in 1859. The Native Church remained under CMS until after the New Zealand Wars when responsibility was handed over to the settler church. Māori continued to struggle to have any voice at General Synod, or to have much say in the ministry among Maori for over 100 years.
The website for the AnglicanChurch in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia - Te Hāhi Mihinare ki Aotearoa kiNiu Tireni, ki Nga Moutere o Te Moana Nui a Kiwa offers the following overview of how our new constitution came to be.
“Bicultural Development and Partnership
Since the 1970s the Maori people in New Zealand have moved out of the shadow of European dominance and assimilationist policies. The Church of the Province of New Zealand committed itself to a re-examination of the principles of bi-cultural development and partnership stemming from a re-consideration of the Treaty of Waitangi signed in 1840 between the British Crown and the Maori tribes of New Zealand. In 1978 Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa originally set up in 1928 with a bishop acting as suffragan to the Bishop of Waiapu, was inaugurated as a semi-autonomous body with representation in the General Synod for the first time. A more comprehensive review of the implications of the Treaty of Waitangi was undertaken in 1984, and a Commission was set up to examine the constitution.
The General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui adopted a revised constitution in 1992, which provides an opportunity for each of the three partners, tikanga (= way, style, or cultural model) Maori, tikanga Pakeha (European), tikanga Pasifika, to express its mind as an equal partner in the decision-making process of the General Synod and to exercise mission and ministry to God's people within the culture of each partner. With the adoption of this constitution, the Church of the Province of New Zealand became The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia/ Te Hāhi Mihinare ki Aotearoa ki Niu Tireni, ki Nga Moutere o te Moana Nui a Kiwa. The seven dioceses in New Zealand and the Diocese of Polynesia remain unchanged, but within Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa five Hui Amorangi (= regional bishoprics) were established, and four bishops have been ordained to serve those areas in conjunction with the Bishop of Aotearoa.”
Today we celebrate Te Pouhere. “Pou” means post, like the large posts that hold up a whare nui; and “here” means to guide. Te Pouhere is the framework that guides how we live, pray, meet together; and how we give freedom to each partner to join in Christ’s mission in their own cultural context. We celebrate that God is still at work, inviting us to deepen our relationship with one another, and to learn from each other what it means to be followers of Christ in the South Pacific.