Phil Cody sm
10 June 2011
The 1500 people who gathered for the Māori Catholic Easter celebration, the Hui Aranga (‘The Gathering of the Resurrection’) this year gasped as the actor who played Jesus during the play of the passion and death gave such a good performance that he and the cross crashed to the floor.
The hui was held this year at Tauranga. It proved to be a celebration of the spiritual, cultural, social and physical well-being of Māori who just enjoy being together having fun and catching up with one another again.
The theme of the death and resurrection of Jesus is expressed in a Māori way in waiata (songs), haka, poi, whaikōrero (oratory) patere (chants), choir, religious quiz, sports and liturgy.
People came from Whangarei to Wellington and Taranaki to Hawke’s Bay, to enjoy whanaungatanga (being family), whakapono (expressing faith) and aroha (love and goodwill) as they have done since the first Hui Aranga at Otaki in 1946.
Highlights in the liturgy were a mime on Good Friday where the local teenagers acted out the passion and death of Jesus with a little help from the commentator who, from time to time, had to repeat the instructions to make sure they got it right!
So the congregation witnessing it were caught up in a mixed set of emotions ranging from tears to laughter. After his dramatic fall, ‘Jesus’ was taken through a large black veil to the ‘tomb’. On Easter Sunday he emerged in glistening white.
Sports day on Saturday drew the best of talent, especially in touch rugby and netball. The little ones were also well catered for in T-ball where tiny tots lined up in a very busy softball field running in all directions to field the ball.
Serious competitive performances of Māori action song and poi with words reflecting the central mystery of the Passover were balanced by activities like a talent quest with people dancing and applauding their young ones who delighted in being on stage.
A choir piece composed by former Professor of Music at Victoria University Jenny McLeod centred on the theme of ‘E Te Ariki, whakarongo mai ki a mātou’ (Lord, listen to our prayer). The highlight of this choral work came at the end of the Mass of the Resurrection on Sunday with a combined choir of about 250 people all singing the four-part harmony in an outburst of thanksgiving.
Activities like a midget, junior and senior religious quiz brought some strange answers about the Faith as people battled to respond accurately to the tricky questions of elder kuia Biddy Mareikura and Home of Compassion Sister, Sr Dorothea, now into her 90s. The pair have run the quiz for 20 or so years!
The general conclusion was that the four-day hui was successful and refreshing, despite the late nights and the long journey home. Once again, an initiative begun by the early Marist missioners to combine the best of being Māori with the heart of the Faith, proved both life-giving and memorable.
The Hui Aranga which is held in a different place each year, is due to be held next year at Whangarei, hosted by the local Māori with the support of the local parish.