Though the Diocese of Wellington is autonomous, it is an integral part of a local, national and international Anglican family known as the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is a fellowship of duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces or Regional Churches around the world, in communion with the See of Canterbury (Church of England), sharing together their life and mission in the spirit of mutual responsibility and inter-dependence. This global community of Anglican churches is bound together by a common history and also by its unity in Christ through the Scriptures (bible) and the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist.
The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is unique for its cultural character and richness. The church’s origins in New Zealand date back to 22 December 1814 when Rev Samuel Marsden representing the Church Missionary Society (CMS) arrived on the shores of New Zealand. Three days later, on Christmas Day, he conducted the first formal Christian service in New Zealand. Thus began the spread of the Christian gospel through the work of CMS missionaries helped, most significantly, by the indigenous Maori people of the day including key Maori evangelists.
Ensuing milestones in the life of the Anglican church in New Zealand were:
||The first Bishop of New Zealand George Augustus Selwyn arrived|
||The Constitution was enacted making the Anglican Church in NZ independent of the Church of England |
||The first Maori Bishop of Aotearoa, Frederick Bennett, was consecrated|
||The Bishopric of Aotearoa was established, with the Maori Bishop now working in equal partnership with the other Diocesan Bishops|
||General Synod established a Bicultural Commission whose work led to a revised Constitution which upheld the tenets of the Treaty of Waitangi. This redefined the Anglican Church in New Zealand as one which expressed its life and purpose through three tikanga (cultural) groupings – Tikanga Pakeha, Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Pasifika.|
The Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia may be small by international standards yet, at various times over the years, it has provided models of ministry which have been ground breaking and visionary.
Bicultural Development and Partnership
It is important to note that on the basis of the gospel and the Treaty of Waitangi the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is committed to the principles of partnership and bi-cultural development which require it to
- advance its mission and order its affairs within its own tikanga (ie. cultural grouping either Tikanga Maori, Tikanga Pakeha or Tikanga Pasifika)
- be diligent in keeping all avenues and dialogue open amongst the three Tikanga leading to and building on common ground for all to benefit
- maintain the right of every person to engage and follow any of the three cultural expressions (tikanga) of the Christian faith