Growing as disciples
We seek to grow our understanding of God by growing our understanding of Te Ao Māori so that we become genuinely people of Aotearoa NZ who can point to Rangatiratanga o te Atua – the Kingdom of God – via the taonga (treasures) of this land which we carry within us and our community. We also seek to create an environment within our midst where tangata whenua (our – as well as other – indigenous peoples) feel welcome and able to fully participate in God’s mission – whether as individuals or in other, more communal expressions and ways. We believe this is a clear implication of the biblical imperative for all of God’s people to be on the missional journey.
Te Riu Whakaoreore
Te Riu Whakaoreore: This name is born from our pūrākau (story). Pū means ‘origin’ and ‘rākau’ is the fully-grown tree.
Te Riu: The the hull of an ocean-going waka. It represents our people journeying by faith into the hard places of our world.
Whakaoreore: Refers to generating a movement, awakening or mobilising others, attuned to the call of the Holy Spirit
Gifts from tangata whenua
In 2014 Interserve (NZ) was gifted a Māori name, Ngā Ringaringa Atawhai (Hands of Grace). In May 2019 we celebrated 200 years since the conception of a vision that became the Zenana Bible Mission.
Now, further along in our journey with indigenous brothers and sisters we have been given, to recognise our growth and our heritage, a metaphorical name by Kaumātua (Elder) Fred Astle.
Te Riu Whakaoreore speaks of the hull of an ocean-going waka (canoe) journeying to far-off and challenging places, seeking to awaken and mobilise others, attuned to the Spirit of God. In pre-European times a waka would be launched between two pou (posts) – markers of home. Wherever the waka lands the pou then metaphorically stand as reminders of what is important. Our pou are ‘He Pou Whakaoreore Wairua’ (spiritual movement, awakening, mobilising – Christ inside and beyond, calling us) and ‘He Pou Wahine Rangatira’ (women’s leadership).
Two taonga were gifted to us to mark this new name. It was a great honour for us to receive them. The first is a large piece of uncut pounamu (jade or greenstone) immensely valuable to Māori. Matua Fred pointed to the rough and ordinary exterior under which lies a precious green-sparkling gem. The second is a korowai – a cloak woven of natural fibres and feathers, often worn by chiefs or honoured persons. Named Te Whāriki (The Woven Mat) the korowai echoes our wider Interserve symbol and, in colour and patterning, tells the story of our heritage, relationships, connections, collaborations, Pou – globally, nationally, locally – focused on helping others. The korowai belongs to the role of National Leader and so brought significant weight to our commissioning of Susie into the role in May 2019.
Jean Yern, the young Māori woman who wove the cloak evidenced, with Matua Fred, a remarkable ability to listen to us and to tell our story with great – prophetic – depth and breadth. While these gifts have come to Te Riu Whakaoreore – Interserve (NZ) there is a gathered sense that we hold them in trust for all of us who are part of this story, this weaving.
A third taonga (treasure) was presented that day. A tokotoko or talking stick was carved for Johannes Balzer, who finished his role as National Leader that day. It intertwined symbols of the twists and turns of his life across the globe, his family who have coloured and grounded his journey, the guidance of God, and Johannes’ faithful obedience to Christ.
Tokotoko are given to revered elders – held by them as they speak as a symbol of their authority and their humility.
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