Racist as bro...


Taika Waititi, Te Pouhere and Mark


Celebrating a church constitution

Gate Pa – Year B 9th Sunday of Ordinary Time,


Psalm                                       Psalm 139:1-7, 15-18 

First Reading:                         1 Samuel 3:1-10    

Second Reading:                    2 Cor 4:5-12   

Gospel:                                    Mark 2:23-3:6                        

What I want to say:

I want to explore how our structures can either deprive people of life or they can help people thrive. Te Pouhere has the potential to help us thrive if we let it

What I want to happen:

People to explore their own attitudes and how they live to help people thrive, or hinder that

The Sermon

       1.      Introduction:

Nearly 2 months ago Taika Waititi in an interview overseas, described Aotearoa as “It’s racist as f**k,”

which didn’t go down well with lots of people

Duncan Garner said he was sabotaging this great country on the international stage

for a day or two lots of push back

we are not racist!

Waititi said about New Zealand. “I mean, I think New Zealand is the best place on the planet, but it’s a racist place. People just flat-out refuse to pronounce Maori names properly. There’s still profiling when it comes to Polynesians.”

many ways he is right

we do profile

remember at university…


all do it often unconsciously

we see group with brown skin and make assumptions about them

worse police do it

seeing group Maori or Polynesian males and stopping them

or politicians do it, describing whole groups of people


drug addicts


that is racism at work

not meaning to offend anyone

but many of us insist on saying place names in a way that ignores the letters in them

which is weird because we insist on saying English place names like “marshbanks” street in Wellington as it is spelt – Majoribanks street

catycat – at least say catycaty.

But really it is Katikati – it not hard to say

paraparam – where did all the rest of the letters go?

and the Kawarau river in Queenstown – I can’t even say it how they say it because it bears no resemblance to the letters in Kawarau.

-          story of radio ad guy who lost a job because he refused to mispronounce Maori place names

not just about how we pronounce Maori place names

language itself

but other stories and events came out since

-          there’s storm over Guyon Espiner and others on Radio New Zealand National and their use of Te Reo – don’t want that muck on our radio

-          reached great crescendo with interview last week with owners of café in Chch who give discounts for orders in te reo and offering free lessons

o   Guyon interviewed one of owners, and some interview was in te reo, and then translated

o   people were really nasty

When we mispronounce place names like that we are saying to Maori

“Your language is so unimportant that I will make no effort to say these names right, in fact I will deliberately say them wrong how unimportant your language is.”

which is a very small step to “you and your culture are so unimportant….”

why is it unimportant?

because it is not English speaking Pakeha culture

so it is inferior

relic of past

assumption that our way of speaking and doing things is the only proper way of speaking and of doing things

that is racist.

sorry if that offends people

but it is.

sad thing is that this gets expressed in all sorts of other ways in our society

this assumption that English is best and our way of doing things is best

        2.      Te Pouhere

today in our church we are invited to give thanks for our constitution

Te Pouhere

few weeks ago I spoke about work of the Holy Spirit in the church today

Te Pouhere is an example of the work of the Spirit

born out of a church that assumed that the Pakeha way of doing things was the right way

right way discuss issues and make decisions

right way to do ministry

English was proper language to do things together because we all spoke it

that was racist as

Maori trained in English to work in Pakeha models of ministry that had no bearing on Maori world

our structures made sense to us as Pakeha

we resisted any alternatives

strangled life of Te Haahi Mihingare

late 70’s recognised that Maori needed a voice at General Synod

making decision for benefit of all without voice significant part of our church

those decisions at times undermined the work of Māori part of our church

not deliberately

but they did

no vehicle for Maori to have their issues and their hopes raised

no way General Synod could spend time thinking about how it would help Maori church address the issues and realise their hopes

so seats for Te Pihopatanga were made available

very similar to recent votes on Maori wards – talk about why we need these

§  which is fine

o   nearly all our city and district councillors are like us

§  little or no contact with Te Ao Maori

§  don’t speak language

§  no contact Marae

§  not engaged with what happens in and around marae

§  little or no appreciation for world view, priorities or issues,

o   is a problem if they are supposed to represent all people

o   this increasingly large segment of our population is missing from the decision making table

o   and that part of population is growing land owner

o   difficult to make good decisions for everyone when such significant group is not at the decision making table

o   councils that have tried to create Maori wards has done so knowing that this gap exists

o   tried to do this in effort to make good decisions for benefit of everyone

-          what are we afraid of?

somehow Spirit of God worked in us and we as Pakeha were able to let go

       3.      The Sabbath

I think Spirit is at work in our lectionary today as well

Gospel reading from Mark sets scene for rest of gospel

issue at play here is how do we understand Torah

what is its purpose?

Often read these two stories as Jesus offering new reading on commandment

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy

keeping it holy was seen as the point

obeying the rules around Sabbath we how you kept it holy

generally see that Jesus is offering something radically new

some commentators who suggest that Jesus simply referring well known ancient rabbinic tradition

tradition that comes out of the wording of this commandment in Exodus and Deuteronomy

Exodus - For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

-          to rest on Sabbath is remember that God rested on the 7th day so that creation could continue

-          Hebrew people were invited to join that rest so that we might be part of God’s life giving creating work the rest of the week

-          Sabbath was created for life

Deut - Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

-          this was given to a people who had been enslaved for generations -> no days off here

-          so commandment reminds them that they are to never go back to slavery

-          nor are they to treat others as badly as they were treated

-          it was a day to stop and remember who they had been

-          to give thanks for all they were now

-          and see who around them needed Sabbath – to rest with God -> those who needed life

Rabbinic teaching from same time of Jesus said

“Saving life overrules the Sabbath,”

He finishes with “The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath;

Another was of saying that Law and structures of Judaism were created to give life

to help people thrive and grow

which raises an equally good question for us

how do our structures – with the church, and within society  allow people to thrive and grow

and how do they prevent us from thriving and growing

how do they lead us away from life?

4.      Te Pouhere anō

in 1990 the Spirit of God helped us as a church realise that our structures were not fixed for all time

and that while they worked for us pakeha

they did not work  for Maori or Pacifica

worse it prevented them thriving

and so we came up with our new structure

Te Pouhere is the mooring post at which our three waka at tied to

Ngai Tahu named their website Te Pouhere as well’

place This is a central place where our people can choose to connect, network and unite.

 ‘Te Pou Here’ refers to the mooring post and comes from “te pou here takata, te pou here tikaka” – the post that ties the people and the customs together.

Wonder what our experience as church offers the debates around Taika Waititi’s comments

about the place of Maori and their tikanga and reo in our county

what have to say about our assumption?

about our use of te reo

and about Maori wards?

Invite you to turn to your neighbour for moment and have conversation