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Book review: Mana Maori and Christianity

Book Review

Fr David Gledhill sm

4 March 2013

Book review: Mana Maori and ChristianityTe Kooti addressed the churches: ‘Kauaka e kai hakari I to koutou whakapono. Tukuna to koutou whakapono kia haere, kia ngawari. Tukuna, kia haere mo te pani, mo te pouwaru, mo te rawa kore.’

We share one baptism into the Body of Christ. When we are clear about his identity and his mission, we can evaluate our response to his call.

This present tome is a remarkably honest, well documented account of the extraordinary work of some of the early Christian missionaries in this country among the Māori.

They of all people can be called ‘Our founding mothers and fathers’.

It is often hard to delineate the missioned and missioners. In 1841 Fr Claude Baty, priest of the Society of Mary, arrived in Ruatahuna to find a Catholic church already built at Manatepa.

Māori had already heard the Word of God and were not only living it but giving public expression in building gathering spaces.

Sometimes ‘bums on seats’ can be the deciding factor for success in proclaiming the Word. I detect an element of this in the accounts of some of the Apostolic and Pentecostal communities. I still believe ‘catholic’ to be those who can proclaim ‘Jesus is the Lord’.

When Peter first gave this response, Jesus affirmed him by saying, ‘Flesh and blood hasn’t told you this, but my Father in heaven’. The Church is those called by the Father to serve. God has no favourites.

I feel this book gives a wonderful insight into the way in which the Father has established his Church in this country.

The documentation is such that any scholar or interested spectator who really wants to see the real hand of God in the cloak of the South Pacific has a marvellous reference point and guide to the spirituality of this land.

I applaud the wonderful work of the Christian family at large as recorded in this book and I am proud to be part of its success and perceived failures.

I am sure this book will take its place in halls of spiritual formation and be the catalyst for the people of the land to share their experiences of ‘a God who walks with his people’.

A Marist priest who walked alongside the people of the land and was rejected by authority proclaimed the future in this way:

‘Ano te pai te ataahua o te nohoanga huihui
O nga teina me nga tuakana I runga I te aroha pumau.’

Mana Maori and Christianity
Edited by Hugh Morrison, Lachy Paterson, Brett Knowles and Murray Rae
Huia Publishers, Wellington, 2012.