At the Waka Aroha on 11 November, retiring chaplain, Sr Mina Fetu’u, was presented with a miniature waka and a candle in honour of the eight years in which she has walked with Māori in this apostolate.
Sr Mina is returning to Tonga to work with her own people there and Fr Gerard Burns will take over the Māori apostolate from next February.
Sr Mina says she has valued her time with Lexie Starkey and learnt a great deal from her cheerfulness and commitment to the Waka Aroha.
The pair often travelled together to the meetings, which occur three times a year and both have missed only two meetings in the time that Sr Mina has been caring for the spiritual needs of Māori through this ministry.
Sr Mina always enjoyed the meetings of the Waka Aroha, and contrasts them with the more competitive Hui Aranga which occurs every Easter.
She recalls St Paul’s reference to the uselessness of possessing gifts without love (1Cor 13) saying that this has guided her in her ministry.
‘I have listened to them and shared their sorrows and joys. I do not have the knowledge but I have the love for them.’
She has really enjoyed working with the Māori people but feels that times have changed and it is time to bring in new blood.
‘The Māori people need a strong leader,’ she said.
Sr Mina is grateful to Pa Hemi Hekiera who started the Waka Aroha 20 years ago and who leads each meeting, ‘for what he is doing and what we get out of the Waka Aroha’.
Providing a way for Māori to come together and share over the past 20 years has been important for Māori, she said.