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Visit to Methodism’s NZ birthplace chance to explore Treaty

Trinity College has hit the ground running in 2009. The College has inducted its new principal, Rev Dr David Bell; the newly established Trinity College Council has drafted a strategic plan; new ordination students have gathered from around the country; a lay education programme is set to commence; and the diploma in Practical Theology, closed last year, is once again being taught.

Accompanied by members of Te Taha Maori, Trinity College students and staff visited Mangungu Mission Station.

Trinity College manager Nicola Grundy says for those in the ordination programme the academic year always begins with an orientation programme. This year the orientation programme began with a covenant service followed by a trip to Northland with members of Te Taha Maori.

On the February 5th, three Trinity College staff members, David, Nicola and Rev Dr Nasili Vaka’uta, 10 ordination students and three Te Taha Maori members, Tumuaki Diana Tana, Lana Lazarus and Bella Ngaha, travelled to Paihia, Bay of Islands. There the students engaged in an in-depth discussion with members of Te Taha Maori before participating in the events surrounding Waitangi Day. This was to give students a better understanding of the role Methodist missionaries played in the signing of the Treaty and help them understand our history from the perspective of Te Taha Maori.

The group attended the Waitangi celebrations on February 6th. The following day they left Paihia and passed through Kawakawa and Moerewa on the way to Pakaraka Church, a historical Anglican site.

They continued on through Kaikohe onto Horeke Road arriving at Mangungu. After spending time at

On Waitangi Day Te Taha Maori tumuaki Rev Diana Tana led prayers during the ecumenical service.
Mangungu they travelled back through Horeke Road to Taheke where they viewed the site that used to be the deaconess cottage. From Taheke they moved on to visit the Waima Oak then carried on through Omanaia, Rawene, Whirinaki, Pakanae and ending at Opononi.

“On our way home to Paihia we made a brief stop in Kaikohe to debrief about our experiences, impressions and theological understandings. On Sunday 8th February we shared in worship at Paihia and Russell,” Nicola says.

This was not the first time Trinity College had attended the Waitangi celebrations but it was the first time students and staff have gone further than Waitangi to the important Methodist sites in the Hokianga. A highlight was the visit to Mangungu, a Wesleyan mission station and settlement in the eastern Hokianga that operated from 1828 to 1855. It was at this site that many Hokianga chiefs gathered to sign the Treaty, more than at Waitangi.

David says Trinity College staff and students were privileged to be part of a four day event and to share Diana and Lana’s personal stories and insights.

Nicola noted, “We came away feeling that we had shared in a very special experience. For many of the Trinity College community this was the first opportunity to attend Waitangi.

“For some there was a bit of anxiety or hesitation in making the trip. Some of the students have talked about the experience, being present at both Waitangi and Mangungu, as putting themselves into the experience of the Treaty. Being in Waitangi with 55,000 other people, there was a real sense of New Zealand being a multi-cultural society. It was a great celebration.”

Nasili says Waitangi Day is not just a holiday for New Zealand Methodists. There was a real sense of importance of the occasion, and we gained a greater awareness of the role of the Church and the Treaty. How do we acknowledge our role looking to the future? Next year, is the 170th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Weteriana has had an important role in the past; we need to be there in the future. It is our intention to be at both Waitangi and Mangungu in 2010.