On Saturday morning a group of pilgrims gathered at the entrance of St Peter's Cathedral with the Sarawak flag flapping above them. We gathered to welcome the Bishop of Kuching (Danald) and his wife (Julita) to a Waikato hikoi.
Archbishop Sir David Moxon guided us throughout northern Waikato, as we explored the significant sites of early Anglican mission. We began with prayer around the statue of Ruatara, in St Peter's, and remembered the words of the first Scripture read out on Christmas Day 1814: "Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy." Then we moved outside to the Queen's Courtyard, where the paving stones drew us into the Anglican story retold on the front doors. The intertwining oak and kowhai trees represent the engagement between Maori and Pakeha, while the three-striped band reminds us of our three-tikanga church. The names of the earliest missionaries - Maori and Pakeha - recall the work that was done to seed the Gospel in this land.
We are a church indebted to the courage and faith of the Ashwells, Browns, Wiremu Tamihana, Heta Tarawhiti, and Tarore. This courage and faith is captured significantly in the life and death of that little girl, and daughter of Ngakuku, who we remembered at Waharoa. Gathered around Tarore's humble gravesite, we acknowledged the price she paid for the Gospel to spread through the land. We offered prayer and song as we looked across the plains to the falls where she died. Her tragic death challenges us to look at what we are willing to sacrifice as we commit ourselves to taking up our cross and following Jesus Christ.
The Venerable Stephen Black