Māori Anglicans will elect a new archbishop in early September to succeed the late Archbishop Brown Turei. The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia’s Māori constituency will meet in Nelson on Sept. 7-9.

In all, 130 members will take part in an electoral college that will take up about half of the scheduled meeting time.

Since 1992, the province has been organized in three parallel sections consisting of its distinctive cultural and language groups (Tikangas). Each has its own senior bishop and diocesan systems. The Tikanga Pakeha (seven dioceses) encompasses English-speaking people of European origin, Tikanga Māori comprises five Amorangi that partly overlap with Pakeha areas, and Tikanga Pasefika takes in the Cook Islands, Figi, Samoa, and Tonga.

Archbishop Emeritus John Paterson, who speaks fluent Māori, has been appointed by the two other archbishops (Philip Richardson and Winston Halapua) to be commissary (or overseer) of the election. He will deliver the opening sermon and survey the hopes and dreams for the new leader.

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Tikanga Māori meetings have a distinctive style that endeavors to canvass all opinions and give every participant a say. The aim is always to achieve a consensus. They take much more time than European-style synods, which work along parliamentary lines.

There are five Māori bishops, and in theory any one of them could be chosen as the new archbishop, though some may decline the opportunity. All five have an opportunity to present vision statements. The five possible candidates — Bishops Kito Pikaahu, Ngarahu Katene, Don Tamihere, Muru Walters, and Richard Wallace — have an opportunity to present vision statements.

The next stage in proceedings is for the preferred name to be conveyed to Archbishop Philip Richardson, who will then confer with other bishops, who must consent to the nomination. In all it will take about two weeks to complete the election.

Archbishop John Paterson has asked Anglicans to hold the election in their prayers: “I believe it would be good if the whole church prayed for Te Runanganui of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa. They are about to consider the nomination and election not only of a very significant leader for Māoridom, but of a primate, an archbishop who must represent this church on the national and international stage.”

John Martin

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