Māori Anglicans welcomed the Most Rev. Don Tamihere as a new archbishop April 28 during a lively ceremony in the North Island coastal town of Gisbourne.
Archbishop Tamihere, 45, becomes the sixth Māori leader under the 1992 constitution of the Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia. He succeeds Archbishop Brown Turei, who died in January 2017.
The main ethnic groups within this Anglican province operate within a tricameral system. The senior bishops of each tikanga have equal standing as primates within the church.
Archbishop Tamihere shaped the ceremony to reflect Māori culture. He chose to be installed not by fellow bishops but by three students from Māori schools. The Rev. Wiremu Anania, 24, who was ordained to the priesthood three months ago, celebrated the Eucharist.
King Tūheitia Paki and his wife, Makau Ariki Atawhai, attended the ceremony.
In his sermon, Hirini Kaa of the University of Auckland recounted the principles on which New Zealand’s unique Anglican polity is based. He told the congregation of 150 how the Māori church was a unique and robust indigenous movement. In the early 19th century, Māori evangelists far outnumbered their European-origin counterparts, sometimes by 10 to one.
Still, church leadership became dominated by white settlers. He said the first constitution was promulgated in 1857 without Māori Anglicans having any say. It was not until 1928 that the church agreed to consecrate a suffragan Māori bishop, following conflicts in which many Maoris were excommunicated by Pakeha (white) bishops.
Archbishop Tamihere was ordained to the diaconate in 2003 and became a priest in 2004.