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The Anglican Bishop of Taranaki, Philip Richardson is also the Archbishop of Aotearoa New Zealand.
When he was ordained the church’s Taranaki leader in 1999, he developed a reputation for driving new ideas and new developments.
And now as archbishop his top priorities are to help the church to work together for the common good, to advocate for people on the margins, and help the church to “deepen its discipleship – in other words, to live out its faith.”
“The church,” he says, “really does exist for those who are outside itself. We’re not a club. We are people who are committed to building communities which are healthy.” Born in Auckland, Philip Richardson was accepted for ordination as a seventh former (Year 13). He gained BA and B Theol degrees at Otago University, attended St John’s College in Auckland and also studied at Tamil Nadu Theological Seminar in South India.
He undertook pastoral ministry in Auckland City, Whangarei and Dunedin, before being appointed warden of Selwyn College at the University of Otago in I992.
Seven years later he was ordained the first Bishop of Taranaki; up to then the region had been presided over by the Bishop of Waikato.
One of the bishop’s most notable projects was the founding of the Bishop’s Action Foundation.
These days it has evolved and has three core functions: It’s a think tank which generates dialogue on issues and co-commissions or inspires research in areas where we need greater knowledge.
It is a backbone organisation, which facilitates projects to enable the evolution and implementation of innovative new projects and collaborations. It’s also a programme and service hub to either deliver or support services that provide a response to needs.
In March 2010 St Mary’s was consecrated a cathedral after many years being known as pro-cathedral. It was the first new cathedral in the world since 1926.
In May 2013 Bishop Philip was ordained for a seven-year term as archbishop, having been chosen by the country’s seven Pakeha dioceses to head New Zealand’s 500,000-strong Anglican communities.
In that role he jointly heads the Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, working with Ahipihopa Don Tamihere (who leads Tikanga Māori) and Archbishop Winston Halapau (leader of Tikanga Pasefika).
The lofty title of archbishop encompasses many duties, and involves extensive travel around the country and overseas. At the time of his ordination he described the job as all consuming, and voracious in its expectations.
He believes that although at heart the Christian gospel is about service – being alongside those in our society who are our most vulnerable - the Anglican church hasn’t presented very well the image of the ‘servant’, even though it does a huge amount serving the wider community.
Nevertheless, he says the church is now less presumptuous about its social place, and has started to be much more honest and self-reflective. And there are indications that the decline in church numbers has plateaued: signs of regeneration are evident.
Archbishop Richardson lives on the outskirts of New Plymouth with his wife Belinda, and the couple has adult children, Clare and Josh.
Office of the Bishop of Taranaki
The Most Reverend Philip Richardson
566 Mangorei Road, R D 1, New Plymouth
P O Box 547, New Plymouth, 4371
Phone: 0064 6 759-1178
Fax: 0064 6 759-1180