It is early in the morning here in Hamilton New Zealand, and I am appreciating the opportunity while in the city for Bishop Steve Lowe’s ordination to stay with my family who I don’t get to see often enough. It is dawn and I am sitting on their deck with a Breviary, a computer and a coffee.
Images from yesterday’s powhiri are still vivid in my mind. The ceremony began with the formal welcoming when we, the visitors (manuhiri) from Christchurch accompanying Steve were called onto the Marae with the karanga. When we reached the area where the speeches would take place, we (the manuhiri) took seats to the right, facing (across an empty space) the people who belong here in the Waikato, the tangata whenua.
There came a moment, for me it’s this image that remains most powerfully, when Steve’s bishop (Barry Jones of Christchurch) and a representative of his home town of Hokitika) took Steve from us, led him across the divide, and gave him to the people of Hamilton who eagerly welcomed him.
Bishop Steve has always claimed that he is a Hokitika man. When he was ordained as a priest we (from the East Coast of NZ) tolerated his personal attachment to Hokitika because this small West Coast town is a cherished part of our Christchurch diocese. But yesterday something new happened, and now Steve belongs to the Waikato.
It was a difficult moment for those of us who were from Christchurch, and we took the opportunity as we greeted the tangata whenua to insist that they take good care of Steve as he will wisely shepherd them.
Bishop-elect Steve Lowe prepares to sign the Profession of Faith. Notice also Bishop Denis Brown, the retiring bishop of Hamilton.