We give thanks for an emblem of Peace - this work of embroidery is complete. We give thanks to God for all that it represents in prayer and striving to be the community of God. We praise God for God’s servant Te Whiti O Rongomai whom this Peace Altar Frontal commemorates. We are seeking to memorialise the peaceful resistance of the Parihaka movement as an example of the Gospel of good news, and to celebrate the Anglican Faith Communities of Taranaki. This beautiful piece of sacred art embodies symbols of the Taranaki faith communities of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the community of Parihaka.
We began by gathering images together from the Anglican faith communities of Taranaki. The white feathers of Raukura form the centre of this. Visitors to the Cathedral have been invited to pray for peace, and contribute a stitch, so that the finished altar cloth will bear the fruits of hundreds of hands and prayers for peace, expressed in many many stitches, to the Glory of God.
Te Whiti o Rongomai was born at Ngamotu near New Plymouth, about 1831. He was educated by missionaries and developed an intense love of the Bible. During the turbulent 1860s he sought a peaceful means of fostering Maori claims. At Parihaka he built a model community, and after the war encouraged his people to resist peacefully the unjust occupation of confiscated land. This led to conflict with the government. On 5 November 1881 armed constabulary entered Parihaka. They were met by children chanting songs. Te Whiti was arrested and imprisoned without trial for a year. He died in 1907.
E te Atua e to matou Matua i te rangi, I arahitia ai e koe nga tohunga o onamata ki tau tama.
Ka huri o matou whakaaro ki a te Whiti o Rongomai i tenei ra. Ka mau mahara matou ki ana mahi whakamiharo. Ano te ahurareka a nga waewae i runga i nga maunga o te kaikawe i te rongopai,e kauwhau ana I te maungarongo, meinga te marama o tou rongopai kia tiaho i roto i te ao katoa kia aru kia koropiko ai nga tangata ki a koe i nga wahi katoa, ko Ihu Karaiti te Ariki o te rongomau. Amine.
God of peace and justice, you called Te Whiti o Rongomai to lead his people to struggle for justice by peaceful means; may we defend the rights of the powerless and build our communities on the basis of mutual care and love; through Jesus Christ the prince of peace. Amen.
The Peace Altar frontal has been completed and is now applied to an altar cloth. It was dedicated at our 10am service on Te Whiti's Day - 6th November 2011. Thereafter it has been laid on the nave altar in the Cathedral for all to see as a sign of God's unique call upon this Mother Church. I would like to pay tribute to all those involved in the Peace Altar Frontal Project - directly, indirectly and in prayer. From the very earliest planning meeting, to the service of dedication on 6th November 2011, there has been a deep sense of the Holy Spirit moving through this. There is much, much more to this object of beauty than meets the eye. May it continue to open our eyes and our hearts to the Prince of Peace. It acts as a pictorial representation of our link with the community of Parihaka, and also of the shape of the many Anglican Faith Communities around the mountain.
The Peace Altar Frontal opens for us a new window on to what it means to be a Cathedral Church. Every time I glimpse it, a new symbol seems to stand out for me - and I have quickly realised that it is a tremendous visual reminder to hold our Diocese - in which we are privileged to be placed as a Mother Church - very specifically in our daily prayer. Alongside the altar frontal is a key to assist you in identifying which symbol relates to which faith community.