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May 2009

Mighty totara falls

In March the Methodist Church mourned the passing of respected kaumatua and former president Rev Morehu (Buddy) Te Whare.

Along with MCNZ president Rev Jill van de Geer and tumuaki Rev Diana Tana, Rev Brian Turner and Rev Desmond Cooper conducted Buddy’s funeral services at Kirikiriroa Marae and Newstead Crematorium in Hamilton.

Brian and Desmond shared their thoughts on Buddy with Touchstone.

Brian says he and Buddy were ordained together in 1972 and stayed in touch despite being stationed in different parts of the country and the world.

"We both remained internationalists and never lost sight of the global as well as local power of the Gospel. Not that we always agreed. We disagreed over the pace of the bicultural journey, for example. Bud wanted to move at the pace of the slowest and I argued that was fine as long as they were moving forward and not backwards," Brian says.

"Buddy had remarkable insight, spirituality and integrity. He continually reflected on the ordinary in an extraordinary manner. Humour was always bubbling below the surface and incessantly surfacing.

"Though Buddy came from a humble background he rose to great heights as a leader and Gospel advocate. President of the Methodist Church in 1987, he needed the wisdom of Solomon to traverse that Conference and the controversy surrounding the first Fijian coup."

Brian says during his time of employment outside the Church, Buddy continued to exercise voluntary ministry and service, notably kai karakia training and worship leadership.

Rev Buddy Te Whare is remembered as a man of spirituality, conviction, and humour.

He was close to Queen Te Atairangikahu and was the minister chosen to conduct her burial on Taupiri Mountain.

Desmond says Buddy was a man of dignity with a sense of humour. He was also a man of the upmost conviction. When he spoke on the Bicultural Journey as president and said we must only move at the speed of the slowest person, this was a prophetic and a pastoral statement.

"Like all true prophets, he caused an uproar amongst some. But it was also pastoral. Nobody should be left behind. This was also the message to Moses when called to bring the people out of Egypt.

"Buddy was always giving, giving of himself and of the gifts he had. Personally he gave me the greatest gift of all when he gave me the gift of acceptance.

"Once at St Paul’s he preached about the mountains that surrounded us: Pirongia, Kakepuku, Maungatautari, Maungakawa, Hakarimata, and Taupiri. It was the first time I felt included, accepted and apart of the landscape. Something struck me deep in my heart as Buddy spoke in such a way that all these treasured mountains belonged to us and we to them. It was a moment of transfiguration."

Desmond says Buddy was a man of faith though there were times when the Church treated him badly, and there were times when Buddy responded badly. However, the Church had the professional responsibility to make amends, and it did.

"Buddy’s faith was contagious. He created a bicultural indigenous theology for which I will always be grateful. He was honoured by the country that he loved and served with the NZ Order of Merit.

"Buddy was all too human but he had a willing heart and a pride in all he did. And he did his all for his Church, his family and his friends. A mighty Totara has fallen, and we can feel the thud deep within our hearts. He will rise again in the heart of God."