Toi Karaitiana: Christianity and Maori Art and Architecture

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This was a series of lectures given by Professor Jonathan Mane Wheoki in the Albert Moore Memorial Lectures.

The first lecture was on art and architecture in the Anglican Church in New Zealand.  Professor Wheoki is an Anglican and could speak about its architecture as an insider.  The Anglican Church arrived in New Zealand at the time it was becoming more ceremonial in its practice of worship.  Anglican translators were responsible for the Treaty of Waitangi.  Its language can be called ‘Missionary Maori’.

The book on church planting among Maori has yet to be written.

The image, The Light of the World by Holman Hunt, toured New Zealand in 1906.  Any image of it in New Zealand Churches, inspiring stained glass windows based in its image, can be dated to this time.  It was probably not this time that Albert Moore saw it.  According to his autobiography he was aware of it as a Bible Class Student and viewed it in the Keble College Chapel when he was studying in Britain in the 1950s.

Early Maori Anglican churches appear on the exterior to be colonial Gothic churches.  Their interiors are ornate.  Although the missionaries forbade the iconography of ancestral images, regarding them as obscene.  It is possible to consider the inclusion of pre-Christian ancestors in religious space as a challenge to the one god the missionaries of whom the missionaries demanded exclusive worship.

It is possible that the Otakou church on the Otago peninsula with its exterior patterned on casts of Ngati Porou design (not the local iwi, but with originals that could be obtained from the Otago Museum) and its Arts and Crafts workmanship was among the first churches with a Maori exterior and marks a transition in architecture.

The Kaik

The new prayerbook of the Anglican church united the Church of England in New Zealand with the Haahi Mihinare.  Together with the Polynesian strand of New Zealand Anglicanism they became the three tikanga, or streams, of the Anglican church in New Zealand.

The second lecture was more about art and painting in the Maori Catholic tradition in New Zealand than about its architecture.   The architecture of Catholic churches lacked the same Maori ornamentation.  It has made use of an architecture that allowed in a mystical light into its space for worship.

The first Madonna and Child done in New Zealand by Patoromu (Bartholemew) Tamatea.  The madonna is adorned with a full facial moko to show that she is set apart and not touched by a man.  The Christ child is represented as a Tiki, the first man.  The image was not received by the Catholic missionaries.  It was received by Pope John Paul II when he visited New Zealand at the end of the twentieth century.  I wonder what a contemporary representation of the Madonna would look like if it included this influence.

The lecture moved from Bishop Pompellier to Ralph Hotere.  Hotere was a Northland Maori who came to Dunedin and made it the base of work and his art.  Hokianga was his whenua and it was there that his body was returned to be his burial place.  Dunedin was the inspiration of his work.

A Fall of Rain at Mitimiti: Hokianga
Drifting on the wind, and through
the broken window of the long house
where you lie, incantatory chant
of surf breaking, and the Mass
and the mountain talking.

At your feet two candles puff the
stained faces of the whanau, the vigil
of the bright madonna. See, sand-whipped
the toy church does not flinch.

E moe, e te whaea: wahine rangimarie

Mountain, why do you loom over us like
that, hands on massive hips? Simply
by hooking your fingers to the sea,
rain-squalls swoop like a hawk, suddenly.
Illuminated speeches darken, fade to metallic
drum-taps on the roof.

Anei nga roimata o Rangipapa.

Flat, incomprehensible faces: lips moving
only to oratorical rhythms of the rain:

quiet please, I can’t hear the words.
And the rain steadying: black sky leaning
against the long house. Sand, wind-sifted
eddying lazily across the beach.

And to a dark song lulling: e te whaea, sleep.

Hone Tuwhare, 1974

The third lecture was on Regret and Resistance, the Maori response.  The chiefs of the tribes marked the Treaty of Waitangi with a cross beside their names, a sign of assent.  The substance of the land belonged to them, now the shadow of the land belongs to the first-comers.  There is a lot to be restored before there can be good faith between the people of the land and the churches again.  It is a long walk back.

The millennial movements took to flags Pakeha brought with them.  The Maori word is te haki, the Jack, as in Union Jack.  The flag engages the wind, it is an intermediary between us and the god of the wind.  Te Kooti’s flag, te Wepu, the whip, ended up in Auckland Museum where it was used as dusters!  As an archivist I feel the outrage!

Maori art has moved from nostalgia to political engagement.  We stand in the river of time looking downstream on the past; the future is coming up from behind us.

The Crucified Tekoteko by Darcy Nicholas

The tekoteko is the carved figure at the top of the meeting house.  The lightning rod, so to speak.  Christianity has crucified the indigenous image, and by the looks of things, bloodied it.  Still, look closely, the ancestors are still in the land.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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Habeamus Papam 2013

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When a Settlement Board meets it usually takes about a year to appoint a minister.  The Conclave of Cardinals made their decision in less than a week, catching everyone by surprise.  I was listening to the morning news on the radio when it was interrupted to announce white smoke from the Vatican chimney.

We have Pope Francis I.  Everyone thinks he’s named for the famous saint Francis of Assisi.  Although some have noted that he could be named for his order’s founder St Francis Xavier.  If one has read the Life of Francis they would discover that he wasn’t just a fluffy ecologist, but also an observant theologian, a miracle-worker, and a border-crossing evangelist who in the middle of the Crusades preached before the Sultan of Egypt!

This is the first Jesuit pope.  Previously this order preferred to step back and take orders as they were called upon.  This is something new.

This is the first Argentine pope.  An earlier pope agreed to divide the Americas between Spain and Portugal.  That action created Portuguese speaking Brazil while the rest of Latin America is Spanish speaking.  Is he going to re-divide South America and give the Falklands to Argentina?

Thoughts on Pope Benedict XVI

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I notice that occasionally people hit an early entry I did on We Have A Pope.  He came in with some dread.  Pope John Paul II’s rottweiler was expected to become Pope Ratzinger, an inquisitor-pope who would keep the Vatican on the strict and narrow.

In some respects he has done that.  Like his predecessor he has filled out the calendar of saints according to their dialectic.  He had a vision of Catholicism becoming a minority religion in the western world so he set an agenda that would keep it in line.  He has set the boundaries on the gospel so we know who’s in and who’s out, at least in the Catholic Church.  He made diplomatic stumbles that set back the Catholic Church in its relations to other sects and religions.

His abdication suggests that what he could not do was reform the government of the Vatican.  There is enough report to suggest that it is corrupt and to the disadvantage of the international movement.  His abdication referred to his mental and physical strength.  It suggests to me that he knew what he was up against.  This burden passes onto his successor.

In my own Presbyterian terminology the Church at Rome has been preached vacant.  The Settlement Board is about to convene.  Don’t expect any major changes though.  Every organisation appoints people to its highest offices that conforms to the thinking of its leadership, whether liberal or conservative.  Blue Sky changes are not going to come down from the hierarchy.

The Puzzle of Scottish Sectarianism

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This was an address given by the Scottish historian Tom Devine in St Paul’s Cathedral, Dunedin. The following is a summary of my notes:

A culture of treating people improperly, described in 1999 as “visceral anti-catholicism. It is perceived that Scotland needs anti-sectarian legislation.

Nineteenth century Irish migration clashed with an establishment represented by Protestantism and the ethos of empire. This migration was focused in area: Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Lothian, Dundee. These people and their descendents have remained an underclass, not achieving material parity with other Scots until the beginning of the twenty-first century. In contrast most other overseas Irish cultures had achieved parity by the 1920s. It did not help that Scotland was an economic back-water for most of the twentieth century outside of the war years.

Without government since the late eighteenth century Protestantism was identity and the primary means of communicating news. The segregation of Irish Catholics was instigated by the Church of Scotland in the 1920s. (Segregation was my term for what Devine described. The Church at the time called for the repatriation of Irish Catholics to Ireland. The Church of Scotland has since apologized for this action.) The Irish in Scotland were scapegoated.

The Scottish brain-drain (my term, significant among New Zealanders). In the 1920s Scottish people stopped looking at emigration from Scotland positively. This does not mean that migrants of Scottish descent returned to Scotland. This makes me wonder how will the emigration of New Zealanders have long-term affect on New Zealand?

The animosity towards this group of Catholics, now indigenous, remains among post-Christian working-class males in the area where Irish Catholics and Protestants settled in Scotland.

The sectarian history of New Zealand has not yet been studied.

Damn and Bugger

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I heard last night that the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin Library is to close. There will be a sale of books beginning 10am on Friday and going until Saturday. A shame, while I hadn’t been in a couple of years it was a nice little library. Mostly religious books, it held a couple of treasures.

Habeamus Papam

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The cardinals elected Ratzinger! Dog in a manger! The man has a reputation as the Vatican’s watch-dog. He retreated into dogmatic conservativism after living through liberalism’s failure to oppose the tyranny of fascism.

I feel sorry for the Catholic Church. A friend observed that the last pope to bear the moniker Benedict put a positive spin on mission to Asia and Asian participation in the observances of the church. Is it their turn next?

Karol Wojtyla mi alasharia la, shantih, shantih, shantih

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At this time 2 million people are gathering in Rome. Italian organisation at its finest, or perhaps Roman. They have all gathered there to observe the burial of a human child in time. They don’t need to be there. Perhaps it is their Gallipoli, the same impulse that compells young anzacs to attend from half a world away. It is a place where a moment happened.

Tessa followed me down to Hatfield Street when I left for GURPS last night. I didn’t find her when I came back. Perhaps she has followed someone else and can’t find her way home, I thought to myself before I went to bed. No – she met me at the gate when I returned from the archives today.

The new Hewitson Librarian has been appointed, John Timmons who previously worked at the Settlers Museum. I don’t know if there is going to be a shake-up, certainly some cages will be rattled.

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