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"We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity" - Neil Roberts


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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Hikoi of Hope: the Encounter at Parliament

Hikoi of Hope: the Encounter at Parliament

On the 1st October 1998, the Hikoi reached Wellington and presented itself to Parliament…

The Church’s Letter as Presented to Parliament (and accompanied by the Stories gathered on the Hikoi):

An open letter to all Members of Parliament.

We, the members of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia having made our Hikoi to our Parliament in Wellington, present the attached concerns and supporting stories for your consideration and response. We have been supported on the Hikoi of Hope by representatives and members of many churches and community organisations and have been accompanied on the road and in towns by a wide spectrum of New Zealanders.

Many thousands of New Zealanders have participated in the Hikoi of Hope: Te Hikoi mo te Tumanako mo te Rawakore. Those who have taken part have urged us to carry to Parliament the same message: that the level of poverty in New Zealand is intolerable and urgent solutions must be found.

We believe the Church is called by God to demonstrate concern for the disadvantaged and we do not intend to neglect this calling. Our social service agencies and those of our ecumenical partners are responding to an increased demand for services. The 53rd General Synod/te Hinota Whanui of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia initiated the Hikoi of Hope in response to the deep concern expressed by Anglican Social Services to the General Synod. These concerns have been confirmed by personal stories recounted on the Hikoi journey. We have heard how New Zealand’s recent programme of economic and social reform has impacted harshly on many of the most vulnerable in our society.

The Anglican Church, alongside our ecumenical partners, has a huge involvement in and commitment to, the delivery of social services. We speak from experience. However our role is not just to deliver charity but to be a voice alongside the disadvantaged. In this capacity we are calling for new solutions to address the causes of poverty in our midst.

It is our considered observation that widespread hardship extends far beyond pockets of social disparity and that poverty is now structured deeply and despairingly into our society.

It is of concern to Church members that current policy makers seriously underestimate the extent of poverty in New Zealand. Public reporting and monitoring responsibilities in relation to social policy outcome is inadequate. Competent research and systematic monitoring of past and future policies is required to provide a more robust basis for policy debate and decision making.

Furthermore, the experience of those who are hurting and agencies offering them support, is not taken sufficiently into account in the development of policy. The independent social policy research carried out by our own and other non-governmental organisations is similarly marginalised. We recommend a formal structure be set up to ensure the facilitation of information from the community and non-government sector in the development and assessment of social and economic policy.

We are also alarmed by the trend to suggest that poverty is due primarily to a lack of individual responsibility. The systemic nature of poverty must be acknowledged if solutions are to be found.
The Hikoi has identified five broad areas that require the development of new policy initiatives.
 
  • * The need for real jobs that produce incomes sufficient for people to support themselves and their families.
    * The need for income and benefit levels that move people out of poverty.
    * The need for a public health system that New Zealanders can trust.
    * The need for affordable housing.
    * The need for high quality, affordable and accessible education.
While we acknowledge that developing sound solutions in these key areas is no easy task we believe these are the issues the New Zealand public wishes to see addressed by our elected representatives. We observe that in recent policy development, a fair process has at times been mistaken for a fair outcome. For example, in the area of housing, current housing policies are failing to solve a major crisis in housing affordability, overcrowding and lack of supply. In making your response to the Hikoi we request specific and detailed policy that has adequate and affordable housing for all citizens as the outcome.

While all citizens can contribute ideas and experiences to the development process, it is our elected representatives who are given the mandate, the responsibility and the resources to develop options for change.

We invite all Members of the House to place before the public a detailed programme to address these five issues before December 1998. At the conclusion of the Hikoi, the Churches will host a series of hui when all Members of the House will be invited to outline specifically to the New Zealand public their proposed solutions to address these five key areas. Your contributions will then form the basis of an open and honest debate by political and community leaders as to how to address the critical social issues the Hikoi has highlighted.

The Hikoi has been a journey of hope. It has already given hope to many who feel their cry of pain has not been heeded. But the primary hope of those taking part in this Hikoi of Hope, is that as our elected representatives you will hear this cry and ensure change occurs.

Yours sincerely,
+ John Paterson
Presiding Bishop/Primate and Bishop of Auckland

The Liturgy in Parliament Grounds

This is included for two reasons:
* to give those people who could not be there on the day a record of the basic service, the framework for what is coming to be seen as a momentous day;
* to form a basis for discussion.

Some discussion questions:
  • 1. What strikes you most about the liturgy at first reading ?
  • 2. How should we as a Church and as a people go about addressing Parliament ? What did this service make possible which a written petition tabled in Parliament would not have ? (Note: the Speaker was unwilling to receive the kete as Parliament’s single representative)
  • 3. Do you agree with the rationale for the Hikoi as set out in section (9) ? In particular, do you agree with those paragraphs given to Bishop Muru Walters to speak ?
  • (“We believe that it is central to the mission of Christ….to just and compassionate community.”
  • What implications does this have for the ongoing life of the Church ? of your parish ? of your own discipleship ?
  • 4. Put yourselves in the place of those Hikoi walkers who led the final prayers. What would you have felt then ? Share your own experience of the Hikoi.

The Entry to Parliament
(with church bells and drums and conch shells)

The Welcome
(from tangata whenua)
Waiata: “Guide me O thou great Jehovah” (verses 1 & 2) (in English then Maori).

The Invocation
* in three languages
* three voices (co-presiding bishops)
Voice 1: “In the name of God our Creator, in whose image we are all made”;
Voice 2: “In the name of God the Redeemer, whose will it is that we should be freed from all that enslaves us”;
Voice 3: “In the name of God the Giver of Life, whose loving power pervades and shapes creation.”
Bishop Viliami Hala’api’api: brief note about what is happening in Polynesia.

Introduction
(Ian Johnstone)

Bishop Ben Te Haara (pictured above):
“We remember in silence those who died in defence of this country and of a free and just society;
we remember those who died in defence of the Four Freedoms:
  • freedom of speech;
  • freedom of worship;
  • freedom from want
  • freedom from fear.”
SILENCE

Greeting to the living (by the Primate)

Prayers for the people and of the people:
(Stephanie McIntyre – Social Justice Commissioner): “Kia inoi tatou. Let us pray.
We thank you, our loving Creator,
for all who have gathered here,
for the tens of thousands who have walked with and
served the Hikoi but are not here today, and
for the hundreds of thousands who are here in spirit.
Be present with us now as we pray.”

(Trish Malcolm – Wellington Archdeacon for Youth): “We think of all those who apply for job after job, but only experience rejection. We think especially of those young people who leave school and can’t find work, and for those in middle age who can’t get back into the workforce.
Please help all the unemployed, who experience the damaging consequences of continuous rejection, and the insecurity of very low incomes. For these we pray,”
People: “O God hear us”

(Christina Tapu – Tikanga Polynesia): “We remember all those who can’t afford to pay their rent and are forced to live in overcrowded houses or in inadequate conditions.
We also think of those, who pay their rent, but don’t have enough money left over to buy all the food their households need.

We remember the children who can’t study, because they are hungry, or because they don’t have enough space in their house to concentrate.
We remember all those people who get sick as a result of dampness, coldness or their inability to afford power and gas. For these we pray,”
People: “O God hear us.”
(Bruce Hansen – Moderator of the Presbyterian Church): “We think of all those whom our health services have failed.
We remember particularly the families who cannot afford a visit to a doctor and the cost of the prescriptions afterwards.
We pray for the thousands of children who have become unnecessarily sick, for the adults too,
and especially for all those who have died, whose deaths could have been avoided. For these we pray,”
People: “O God hear us”.
(Flora Tuhaka – Tikanga Maori & Anglican Family Centre): “He inoi Maori (- a prayer in Maori)”
(Campbell Roberts of the Salvation Army): “We think of all those people in Aotearoa New Zealand who live in poverty, and don’t have enough money to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and other crucial costs.
We know how unfair it is that people have to live this way in a country with the resources we have.
We think of the fear and anxiety that poverty breeds, and the sense of hopelessness that follows.
We remember the children growing up in poverty and the parents managing their families in poverty. For these we pray,”
People: “O God hear us”.
(Julian Wilcox – Tikanga Maori): “We think of all the young people who begin their adult life owing large debts to the Government, to pay for their right to study,
We think also of those who want a higher education but are denied it because they don’t want to run up a large debt,
We remember all those who are not able to access the education they want, because they or their families cannot afford it. For these we pray,”
People: “O God, hear us.”
(The Revd Elder Risatisoni Ete): A prayer in Samoan
(Bonnie Robinson – Christian Social Services Council):
“We pray especially for all those who make decisions that affect the lives of people with all these problems,
and we plead for social policies and planning that will ensure every New Zealander can live decently, out of poverty and with dignity.
Please help all the members of our Parliament, and all the political parties, to recognise that too many new Zealanders are suffering unnecessarily,
and that as a nation we need a greater sense of political compassion and justice.
We pray for the creation of real jobs, affordable housing, a public health system that people can trust, benefit and wage levels that move people out of poverty, and affordable and accessible education, to give our people hope. For all these we pray.”
People: “O God hear us.”
Sung response: “Kumbaya”

Two Scripture readings
Isaiah 58:6-11 (read by Rabbi Michael Abraham – Liberal Jewish Synagogue)
Luke 6:20-21, 24-26 (read by Cardinal Tom Williams – Roman Catholic Church)

The rationale for the Hikoi and its central demands:
(Bishop Muru Walters – Tikanga Maori): “We believe that it is central to the mission of Christ
to participate, by word and action, in the struggles of
the poor for justice.
We believe that our allegiance, and the rightful
allegiance of this land, is not to Money but to God,
our calling is not to greed but to sharing,
our dignity is found not in possessions
but in service to others,
and our duty is not to any ideology of self
but to just and compassionate community.”
(Bishop Penny Jamieson – Tikanga Pakeha): “We therefore come to this Parliament
with our hearts touched by the pain of the growing poverty in this nation,
with our minds full of the stories of this pain, yet with our spirits full of hope in the faithfulness of the God of justice.”
(Winston Halapua – Tikanga Polynesia): “We bring the cry of people for real jobs, affordable housing, a health system we can trust, income and benefit levels that move people out of poverty, and high quality affordable and accessible education.
We bring that cry to this place of power where decisions are made that touch us all, and policies from which so many of us feel excluded.”

Presentation of the Kete
(Introduction by Ian Johnstone)
Co-Presiding Bishop Whakahuihui Vercoe says:
“We, the Presiding Bishops of the three tikanga Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, present these kete on behalf of the many thousands of New Zealanders who have walked this Hikoi of Hope with us. These baskets carry within them the tears, pain and hopelessness that we encountered so widely on this walk. They also carry the hopes for a new society, where everyone is valued and has the means to participate fully in the life of our country.”
Bishop Viliami Hala’api’api says:
“In these kete are some of the stories we gathered during the Hikoi from Cape Reinga and from Stewart Island to this city. We commend them and the cry that comes from them, to you. Inside the kete there is also a letter outlining the deep concerns of this Hikoi, and our invitation to you, as our politicians, to achieve the great Hope of all who have walked for a just and inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.”
Primate John Paterson says:
“On behalf of the people of this land, we seek for all New Zealanders * real jobs
* affordable housing
* a health service people can trust
* benefits and wage levels that move
people out of poverty
* affordable and accessible education.”
Sir Paul Reeves says: “The pain and dislocation have gone too far. Enough is enough.”
Seven groups of three Hikoi people walk across the forecourt to the lower steps of Parliament where the Political Party representatives and a representative of the Independent MPs are standing with members of the other tikanga in their Parties. Each representative is presented with a kete which has within it a sample of the stories gathered during the Hikoi from throughout New Zealand, and a letter outlining the concerns of the Hikoi and the Five Demands.
There is a brief response, one each from both sides of the House
Samoan choirs sing: “Faafetai i le Atua”

Closing prayers:
* The Lord’s Prayer (in one’s own language).
* (Five people who have walked the Hikoi from North or South: Nikora Nitro, Dayanna Ropata, Heather Flavell,& Here Williams, & a Polynesian walker):
“Voice 1: O Christ of the road of the wounded,
O Christ of the tears of the broken,
We give you thanks that in us and with us have
journeyed your hopes for your people;
Voice 2: We give you thanks that in our walking and talking and listening you have granted us your love and your strength;
Voice 3: We give you thanks for the generosity of spirit we have encountered in the people of this land;
Voice 4: We give you thanks for the richness of what we have shared together: faith, vulnerability, courage,
hospitality, and renewed vision and hope for the future.
Voice 5: We now commit ourselves to serve that vision and live in that hope, in the power of your suffering love. Amen.”

Blessing in three languages
Co-Presiding Bishops and Presiding Bishop
Hymn: “Whakaaria mai”

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