First female Māori bishop

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More than a thousand people thronged onto the grounds of an Anglican college in Masterton recently to celebrate the ordination of Bishop Waitohiariki Quayle as the first Māori woman to be installed bishop in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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Waitohiariki (Wai) Quayle was ordained and installed as Bishop of Upoko o Te Ika (the Maori Anglican Church in the lower North Island) during a day of joy and celebration in Masterton, just north of Wellington, in Aotearoa New Zealand recently.

She also became the first Aotearoa New Zealand-born woman to be elected bishop in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

More than 1000 supporters turned out to the pōwhiri (welcome ceremony) and ordination service at Anglican School Rathkeale College, where six marquees were ready to welcome the crowd.

Cheers rang out several times during the ordination service, as an underlying sense of excitement and anticipation spontaneously broke out into joyous applause.

Bishop of Polynesia Archbishop Fereimi Cama said that Bishop Waitohiariki’s ordination was groundbreaking for the Anglican Church and a special day for Tikanga Māori.

“We are overjoyed at this opportunity to celebrate the first Māori woman ordained bishop,” Bishop Cama said.

“This is a great achievement for Tikanga Māori and a breakthrough for the whole church.”

For Bishop Waitohiariki, the highlight of the day was seeing the body of Christ gathered together as one family with everyone playing their part.

“I don’t believe in dividing people, in saying you are this or that. We have to be a lot more kind to one another – all of us – all the time,” Bishop Waitohiariki said.

“That’s not just something that we come to hear about at church on Sunday, or in the Bible stories and what Jesus said. Kindness has got to be who we are – 24/7.”

Bishop Waitohiariki Quayle is the first Maori woman and first Aotearoa-born woman to be ordained Bishop in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

Bishop-elect Waitohiariki Quayle (69), belongs to Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Whakatōhea.

She was ordained deacon in 2013, then priested in 2014 by Bishop Muru Walters at the Church of Te Hēpara Pai in Masterton.

Since 2015 she has served as Archdeacon of the Māori Pastorate of Wairarapa.

Until recently Bishop Waitohiariki held the role of Māori community health services manager at Whaiora Māori Health based in Masterton, where she oversaw staff managing multiple government health contracts.

As Bishop of Te Upoko o Te Ika, Bishop Waitohiariki will shepherd the Māori Anglican Church across the regions of Taranaki, Manawatu, Wairarapa and Wellington.

Pīhopa o Aotearoa Archbishop Don Tamihere was joined as celebrant for the ordination by Archbishop Fereimi Cama and Archbishop Philip Richardson and bishops from across the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

They were supported by Assistant Bishop of Adelaide Denise Ferguson, the first New Zealand born female bishop, and the former Archdeacon of Moreton in the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

Bishop Waitohiariki intentionally raised the voices of women and youth in the service, putting women forward to lead each of the readings, songs and prayers, as well as The Rev’d Teri-Rori Kirkwood, a female priest from Upoko o Te Ika, who presided at the Eucharist.

Bishop Waitohiariki’s behind-the-scenes encouragement also shone through in the many children and youth who served on her special day as acolytes, readers and cantors, and provided hospitality and logistics for the hakari (ceremonial feast).

Young people participated in front and centre roles at the installation of Bishop Waitohiariki: (L-R, front) Davinia Mcdonald, Wizdym Williams and Darnica King from Hukarere College performing the kapa haka

Dr Doris Kaua from Te Awa Kairangi Roopu believes there’s no mystery as to why so many responded to Bishop Waitohiariki’s call to take part,

“Waitohiariki is a very empowering leader. When she speaks with you she makes you feel important – she empowers young people, women, men – everybody,” Dr Kaua said.

Young people powered much of the day’s events in song, beginning with kapa haka (group dance) from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Wairarapa following the opening karanga (summons).

Hukarere College arrived en masse to support the new bishop in song – which they did with power and grace at the pōwhiri, the service and at times in between, singing alongside a cohort of boys from Te Aute College, while Rathkeale College choir provided the first waiata (song) to open the service.

Amidst the joy and celebration, Dr Jenny Te Paa Daniel’s sounded a note of caution, calling on the church to make sure Bishop Waitohiariki’s historic first does not become a long-time standalone.

“This Church is not to place an intolerable burden of expectation upon the strong and capable shoulders of one woman, and nor is it to become inappropriately self-congratulatory,” Dr Daniel said.

“…rather it is now our collective responsibility to not only applaud and uplift our beautiful new bishop, but it is to work unceasingly to replicate such appointments from here on in.

“Waitohiariki needs and deserves our ongoing solidarity not just our momentary salute.”

A week or so ago Jenny Te Paa Daniel wrote to ask Bishop Waitohiariki how she was coping in the lead up to her ordination day, relating that “…you responded so very simply and eloquently when you said to me:

“I have this incredible calmness that I have carried since the Electoral college. I believe the Holy Spirit is surrounding and uplifting me on this journey. And I am so grateful for the positive people around me as well.”

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