Adapted from Gavin Drake, ACNS
The oldest primate in the Anglican Communion, Archbishop William Brown Turei of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia, will retire at the end of March at the age of 92.
Turei is one of three equal-status primates in the province. He will step down as Te Pihopa ki Te Tai Rawhiti (Bishop of Tairāwhiti) in December and as Te Pihopa o Aotearoa (Archbishop for the Maori Tikanga) next March. At the time of his retirement, he will have served for more than 65 years in ordained ministry.
His two-stage retirement allows Tairāwhiti and Waipounamu to elect new bishops and have full representation in place before the election for a new Bishop of Aotearoa.
“It will give me great peace of mind to be able to leave Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa and Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tairāwhiti knowing that they are settled and prepared for the future,” he said. “Now is the season for new leadership, new vision and ideas, and a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to come and lead the church forward. I am very excited about the new generation of young leaders waiting in the wings, and I can’t wait to see what God will do through them.”
The province is based on three Tikanga, or cultural streams. One serves Aotearoa, the Maori branch of the church; another serves the Pākehā, European settlers to New Zealand and their descendants; and the third serves Polynesia. Tikanga has a bishop, and together they are archbishops of the province.
Serving as a deacon, priest, and bishop has been “the great privilege of my life,” Turei said. “I am indebted to Christ, and to my wife, family, and all those who helped me along the way.”
Turei was born in 1924 in Opotiki, on the North Island of New Zealand. He was interested in the priesthood from his young days, and spent a short stint at College House, Christchurch. But when war broke out he enlisted in C Company of the 28 Maori Battalion. After the war, he returned to St. John’s College, Auckland, and he was ordained a priest in 1950.
He was chosen as Archdeacon of Tairāwhiti in 1982. He became chaplain of Hukarere Girls’ College in 1984, and he served as chaplain of Napier Prison for four years.
His election as Te Pihopa ki Te Tai Rawhiti (Bishop of Tairāwhiti) in 1992 followed provincial reforms in 1990 that established the three Tikanga. In 2005 he was elected Te Pihopa o Aotearoa (Bishop of Aotearoa) and installed as primate and archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia in 2006.
He will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop on March 7.