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A hui at Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary on September 10 will set out and consult on the developing vision for the restoration and refurbishment of the cathedral and the historic site on which it sits.
It’s expected to draw iwi representatives, as well as members of the Crown and churchgoers from Anglican parishes around the region.
Over the last 20 years the Anglican community in Taranaki has reflected on the history of its relationship with Māori. This culminated in a formal apology given by the Bishop of Taranaki Philip Richardson at the consecration of St Mary’s as Taranaki Cathedral in March 2010.
Significantly, earlier in the same service, Archdeacon Tikituterangi Raumati, a direct descendent of Te Whiti o Rongomai, offered what he called 'a gift for a new beginning', which he also described as an expression of forgiveness.
Cathedral Dean Peter Beck says: “In that spirit we seek through The Cathedral Project to create on this site an experience that conveys an honest understanding of what has happened in our history as a province – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
“We want to develop an experience which also offers a vision of what a Treaty-based Gospel-focused community might look like. An experience which offers vision and possibility, inspiring confidence and hope in the future for all people, especially the young.
Taranaki Bishop Philip Richardson, also the Archbishop of Aotearoa, said to come to reality, this kaupapa needs to be developed by Māori and Pākehā together.
The church has already been holding conversations with local Māori Anglicans, with Ngati Te Whiti, and with other key Taranaki Māori leaders. “They have shown considerable commitment to working through this process with us.”
The project must also point towards and support the Parihaka kaupapa, he says. Over the last 10 years the cathedral community has sought to build an honest, fair and careful relationship with Parihaka. “We have sought where possible to support the people of Parihaka, and they have been an enormous support to the cathedral.”
A part of the hui will see the church respectfully seeking the permission of Beverley Lady Reeves and the family of the late Sir Paul Reeves for the honour of associating the Reeves name with the emerging kaupapa of the cathedral vision and with the Atrium development in particular.
This will recognise Ta Paora’s contribution and commitment to peace and reconciliation, as a Priest and Bishop (the youngest Bishop since Bishop Selwyn), as the first Māori Archbishop and the first Māori Governor General, as a member of the International Eminent Persons’ group at the time of the disestablishment of apartheid in South Africa, as the Anglican Church’s representative at the United Nations, the Commonwealth Peace Envoy in Guyana, and as the Chair of the Constitutional Review Commission for the Republic of Fiji.
The hui is both a statement of intent and a deep commitment to the on-going journey. It starts at 12noon at the Interim Cathedral in the Peace Hall on Vivian St, opposite the cathedral, which is currently closed for the earthquake strengthening project ,The Cathedral Project.