Report by Dean Helen Jacobi - 12 August 2011
Supported by the Tikanga Pakeha Missions Council Grant »
In 2008 the Waiapu Cathedral welcomed a group of seasonal workers from Vanuatu who came to work in Hawke’s Bay picking fruit. The first year they were lodged at a Napier Backpackers and so were close to the Cathedral. In the following years they were lodged in Hastings but continued to worship at the Cathedral.
A leader of their group emerged: Philip Welin who is a licensed lay leader in the Diocese of Vanuatu. Under Philip’s leadership the group (changing each year) continued to worship with us and links were made.
In 2010 we began to plan to make a visit to Vanuatu to worship with the church there and to understand better their culture and context so we could be better hosts.
The trip took place from 22-30 July 2011. 12 parishioners participated.
Each person paid for their own airfare, accommodation and expenses.
Grants were received from the Anglican Missions Board and the Waiapu Foster Trust and were spent on gifts and supplies.
In the months before leaving we held several meetings and learning sessions: the history of the church in Melanesia; Vanuatu politics and history; language and customs. We prepared gifts and worship material and collected books.
Rev Dorothy Brooker travelled ahead of the group and spent 2 days confirming the programme.
Sunday 24 July
Monday 25 July
Tuesday 26 July
Wednesday 27 July
Thursday 28 July
Friday 29 July
The trip fulfilled our expectations of being able to make connections with the Vanuatu Church and understand better their culture and context.
Group members were struck by the “high” liturgy, the devotion of people to the church and liturgy. We were very aware of the poverty and lack of what we would consider basics such as electricity and water, yet were also aware of the contentedness of the people and their lack of desire for “more”. At the HC meeting the comments was made that after 3 or 4 years of work in NZ the workers have “enough” and don’t see the need to continue working for any more years. We were humbled by the generosity of the welcome and the hospitality shown to us.
We could see the importance and centrality of the church in people’s lives. There was no secular/religious division like in NZ. We could see also the importance of the Vanuatu workers continuing to attend church and not getting caught up in NZ’s “secular” cultures and attitudes. We need to find more ways to reach out more to the Anglican workers we do not know yet.
Having Rev Dorothy Brooker in the group was very beneficial. Dorothy and her late husband Arthur were missionaries in Ambae in the late 1960s. He tragically died there in Sept 1970 and is buried there. Dorothy was greeted by many who knew her and remembered her as a majority of Anglicans with secondary education went to the Vureas School on Ambae and others had heard of the Brookers and had visited the grave. They are remembered with great affection and so gave our group mana and credibility.
There is a definite future in this partnership. We have the personal links to make this partnership strong. How it will play out in the future is unknown but could include:
- continued and more intentional support of the seasonal workers
- regular communication and sharing of info: newsletters etc
- prayer – we need to add the parishes of Tagabe, Fres Wota, Seaside and the Brothers to our regular prayer cycle
- visits – a visit from the Vanuatu side outside the seasonal workers would be beneficial but would raise the issue of airfares and cost
- a return visit from us in 2013 – should include a visit, maybe by a smaller group to Santo to visit the Bishop and to travel to Ambae to see where the NZ missionaries were based.