Council News December 2023

[Council News is prepared by the Council of Assembly (CoA) after Council meetings. Everyone can sign up to receive Council News here.]

Welcome to our final Council News for 2023.

Below, a devotion shared by Honey Thrupp during our hui (held 30 Nov – 1 December 2023) with the Synod of Otago and Southland at Knox College, Dunedin:

Ko Mataatua toku waka, Ko Ohinemataroa toku awa, Ko Maungapohatu toku Maunga, Ko Te Urewera toku ngahere, Ko Whakarae me Waikirikiri raua ko Ohope oku Marae, Ko Tuhoe toku Iwi, Ko Tiare raua ko Tina toku matua.


Our waka, Mataatua, as Moderator Tamiana would say, Tuhoe have no waka, we were born from the mist Hinepukohurangi and Te Maunga, but our ancestors did journey here, part of that great migration. The tohunga used the stars to guide them, watching the tides of the ocean to direct them. A unique and authentic way of God bringing them to this land, Aotearoa. 

Our river, Ohinemataroa, named after our tipuna kuia daughter of Teatatatau o Nga Potiki and Tarawhata, the crystal-clear waters we bathe in, the river we take our children/mokopuna to, teaching them to care for God’s creation. The river that feeds us and cleanses us, God’s authentic creation. 

Our mountain, Maungapohatu, the place we go to find healing, spiritual growth in God, guidance, and peace. The place where we come to unite as one people, one cause, one reason for remaining our authentic selves. God’s unique wonder to share with all.

Our forest, the place that feeds us, nourishes us, heals us. It holds our pito (umbilical cord) placed in the branches of the trees. It holds our whenua (placenta) buried in the roots of our native trees. This is our reason that draws us back to our lands, the place that has all we need in life, another one of God’s perfect creations, unique and authentic, never changing in this ever-turning world.

Our Marae, our place to meet, to sleep and eat. Our place to mourn, to laugh and cry. Our place to remember, to welcome visitors, to talk to plan and to love. Whanau that stay near the Marae are called Te Hau Kainga, they keep the home fires burning “ahi ka”, kaitiaki authentic in their belief.

Our tribe, the people we were born into, our identity, our connection to the land. 

Our parents, our safe haven, our reason to being, our reason to be our authentic self.

Psalm 139:13-14 
“You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul knows very well.”

We all connect to a river, a mountain or a forest, a place we call home in God’s creation, we sometime call our homes the Marae because we welcome people to eat, pray and sleep.  We are ‘ahi ka’ as COA because we keep the home fires burning for the Church. We stoke the fires; we fuel it to keep burning.  We are unique and authentic because God made us that way. 

COA members

At our first meeting since General Assembly we welcomed our new members to COA: Rev Roxy Gahegan (Deputy Convenor), Mr Grant Holland (Alpine Presbytery), Rev Micah Tang (Asian Council), Right Rev Rose Luxford (Moderator) and Mr Andrew Souness (Church Property Trustees). 

We look forward to onboarding Rev Andrew Scott (Southern Presbytery) in March 2024 as he was not able to join us, and hopefully a representative from the Pasifika Presbytery. We welcomed COA Convenor, Katerina Solomona, as she begins her term in this role.

We welcomed our returnees who will be serving their last two years on COA: Ms Honey Thrupp (Te Aka Puaho), Mr Craig Donaldson (Resource Sub-committee), Rev Ryhan Prasad (Leadership Sub-committee), Rev Dr Colin Marshall (Northern Presbytery), Dr Marion Sanders (Kaimai Presbytery), Rev Mo Morgan (Presbytery Central).

We acknowledged our Associate Members: Rev Tamiana Thrupp (Moderator, Te Aka Puaho), Rev Wayne Matheson (Assembly Executive Secretary), Mr Mark Heslip (Synod of Otago & Southland).

COA team building
We began our time together with a team building activity to help us get to know one another:  
1) Where were you born and raised? 2) How many in your family and what was the family order and dynamic? 3) What is your favourite memory of your childhood? 4) What are your passions? 5) What are you hoping to achieve from our time together? 

It was important for us to spend some time in getting to know one another because it helps create a team that cohesively works together, a strong team through bonds and connections. It is also about building trust, improving communications, increasing collaboration and maintaining motivation.  Above all, it helps identify and nurture key strengths that we all bring to the table, our ability to be innovative and mahi tahi with people at the heart.  Our theme was, ‘Be Bold’ – Whanake! 

It was important to begin our time with the onboarding process.  We also took some time to korero about, “What are COA responsibilities?” We broke into groups and used a SWOT analysis to consider the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats for the Council.  This is still a work in progress, and we will continue to spend some time in this space when we meet in Auckland in March 2024, because if we do not know what our responsibilities are then our place at the table is compromised.

Celebrating our key highlights
It is the custom of Council that after we receive a report from a person or a group, that we pause and pray. It allows us to appreciate the mahi and is an important part of honouring, supporting, modelling, and living out the values by which we say we live and express our thanks to God for the on-going work of our life together.

Te Aka Puahou update: key highlights

(Moderator Tamiana Thrupp and clerk Honey Thrupp)

•    It was great to hear that at the recent annual hui it was confirmed that Te Aka Puaho has formally changed its name to Te Aka Puahou (a new beginning) to reflect the meaning that had originally been intended.
•    Attended the recent Assembly of the Pacific Conference of Churches held in Noumea. It was wonderful to see these roles and responsibilities being embraced.
•    The number of active Te Aka Puahou parishes has grown, and the hope was to offer more assistance to these parishes to help them to grow further.
•    Moderator Tamiana and the clerk Honey shared their appreciation for the support of the AES, and the Council of Assembly.

Moderator update: key highlights

(Moderator Right Rev Rose Luxford)

•    It is great to hear the activities and what our Moderator has been up to since taking up her role. Refer to the Moderator’s monthly column in Bush Telegraph and the Moderator Facebook page for these updates, and see the Moderators recent Advent and Christmas messages to the Church. 

Leadership Sub-committee update: key highlights

(Convenor Rev Ryhan Prasad)

•    It is great to see a substantial increase in committee numbers which will allow the committee to be proactive rather than reactive in the work undertaken.
•    It is great to see a programme of work for KCML in 2024 with the focus on elder/lay training and they already have 14 presbytery engagements in this regard in place. 
•    It is great to see some opportunities being explored on how to strengthen the NOM assessment weekend.
•    There are ministers waiting for receptions and this will be picked up by the Personnel Work Group in 2024.

Resource Sub-committee update: key highlights

(Craig Donaldson)

•    COA has appreciated the way our finances is reported at our meetings.
•    While we are ahead of budget at the end of the first quarter, the projected deficit is not sustainable. 
•    It is proposed a small working group will be established to investigate alternative income streams – especially in relation to Te Aka Puahou, KCML, and the Presbyterian Research Centre (PRC).
•    We encourage the move to Zero for our payroll, thank you to the churches already on this journey and we encourage the rest of our churches to do the same as it helps us streamline efficiencies with your congregations, our finances, and the auditors.

Assembly Executive Secretary (AES) update: key highlights

(Rev Wayne Matheson)

•    COA continues to look for ways to support the mahi our AES is carrying, and we have appreciated his wisdom and expertise in all facets of church.
•    GA 2023 decisions which are relevant to the Council were added to the COA workstream, including the approval of the minutes from GA to be confirmed as a true record - these are now on the PCANZ website.
•    Other related matters were also discussed including Risk Register, format and costs of Assembly to be reviewed (this is already underway including the work groups terms of reference and ensuring there is also the voices of young adults and youth at the table), endorsement of the ecumenical relationship policy, priorities for the next two years.
•    Council appointed Martyn Vincent as the Council of Assembly representative to the Audit & Risk Committee.

Board of Knox and Salmond Colleges update: key highlights

(Chair - Rev Prof Murray Rae)

•    COA appreciated the mahi of the Board and hearing of the life of the two colleges, with opportunities and challenges.
•    It was also noted the special Christian character of each college, and the membership of the Knox and Salmon Board (including the diversity of cultures).

Synod of Otago & Southland update: key highlights

(Executive members of the Synod of Otago & Southland)

•    It was wonderful to spend some time with our whanau from the Synod including Southern Presbytery moderator James Watt.
•    It was good to hear from Synod representatives outlining their roles and an overview of the life of the Synod. 
•    It was also noted mahi tahi of Synod, Southern Presbytery, and Church Property Trustees on common property issues.
COA appreciate the ongoing financial support provided by the Synod and their willingness to help in the life of the Church.  We took the opportunity to korero further over a meal, and Synod joined us for devotion and we all learnt a waiata together “Kia Hiwa Ra” led by Te Aka Puahou Moderator Tamiana Thrupp.

Church Property Trustees (CPT): key highlights

(Chair - Andrew Souness)

•    Council have always appreciated CPT expertise at the table.
•    Council received a letter from the Trustees relating to decisions of the General Assembly relating to the Trustees’ Earthquake prone building policy. 
•    Council agreed to obtain a legal opinion concerning duty of care and legal liability of church councils (and presbyteries where they are the beneficial owner) about General Assembly decisions in relation to the Building Act 2004 (earthquake).
•    It was also noted the decisions of the Assembly related to Fit for Purpose buildings and the important work for presbyteries in this regard. Presbyteries will be asked to update Council on this matter by no later than June 2024.
•    Rev Dr Colin Marshall was appointed as the COA representative to the Church Property Trustees.
For more information about CPT and their work see their newsletters here on the PCANZ website.

Other matters: Councils Priority Workstream 

•    Format and cost of Assembly.
•    Alternative income streams led by RSC (especially in relation to Te Aka Puahou, KCML and Presbyterian Research Centre (PRC)).
•    New ministry pathways – pioneering, youth ministry led by LSC.
•    Presbytery Training led by KCML and supported by LSC.
•    COA responsibilities (including how we communicate) to be finalised by our March 2024 hui in Auckland.

Other matters: Councils Existing Workstream

•    Tino Rangatiratanga and the Church’s commitment to a bicultural journey. 
•    Te Reo commissioner (Te Aka Puahou is considering a way forward).
•    Council Strategic prioritisation.
•    Te Haere Tonu work group.

Thank you for your service on COA!

We acknowledged the receipt of, and accepted, the resignation of Rev Mo Morgan (Central Presbytery) with understanding. We thanked her for her contribution to Council. Mo shared her journey on COA during the past three years: “I have learnt a great deal and been very impressed with the calibre, commitment, and passion that people have for the work of COA and the wider Presbyterian Church.  It has been a privilege to serve God's church in this way and I am grateful for the opportunity.”
We wish Mo all the very best as she focuses more on her amazing new role with Eco Church NZ: An A Rocha Aotearoa NZ project. PCANZ is a denominational partner with Eco Church, see more on our PCANZ website, and get in touch with Mo if your church is interested.  

Final message for 2023!

We take this opportunity to say thank you to our Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) for the amazing mahi this year. We at Council of Assembly have appreciated each and every one of you who either serve in the life of church in whatever capacity, who lead in the life of our Church, attend to the life of our Church, or simply to pray for our beloved PCANZ.  We are truly in awe of all you contribute to in the life our Church.  
On behalf of your Council of Assembly we thank you for your service, your time, your dedication and your endless commitment to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  We look forward to what is ahead for us all in 2024 and whatever that looks like, we continue to trust God to lead us, to guide us and to direct our path. Wishing you and your whanau a very blessed Kerisimasi (Christmas) and may God continue to bless all that you do for our beloved, God’s beloved, church.

Yours in Christ

Mrs Kat Solomona                     Rev Roxy Gahegan
Convener                                      Deputy Convener
Council of Assembly                   Council of Assembly