Communiqué from Tikanga Youth Synod 2016
Tikanga Youth Synod, an annual gathering of young people and youth leaders from all three Tikanga, and members of the Tikanga Toru Youth Commission, was held at the Silverstream Retreat Centre in Lower Hutt from Friday 26 February to Sunday 28 February.
The theme of Tikanga Youth Synod in 2016 was Climate Change and Refugees and participants, including youth leaders from Fiji and Tonga, came knowing the reports of the damage Tropical Cyclone Winston had caused in Tonga, and the devastation and loss of life it had left in its wake in Fiji. Cyclone Winston, the strongest cyclone on record to ever make landfall in Fiji, happening alongside the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu in the space of one year are examples of the increasing frequency of extreme weather. Participants prayed for and expressed their solidarity with all those affected.
Participants also arrived into Wellington before the Youth Synod alongside the first intake of Syrian Refugees since the NZ Government had agreed to take additional people, and were aware of the submission made in the preceding week by Archbishop Philip Richardson and Archbishop Brown Turei to the Minister of Immigration and the Minister of Foreign Affairs in NZ on substantially increasing NZ’s refugee quota.
The meeting began with local clergy and kaumātua welcoming participants to Awakairangi (the Hutt Valley) with speeches that highlighted the importance of the tikanga or customs of kaitiakitanga of whenua and wai (guardianship of land and water), and manaakitanga towards manuhiri (hospitality towards guests or strangers).
Each day of the Youth Synod was bracketed by prayer and worship led by each Tikanga with the Closing Eucharist led by, and including language and music from, all three Tikanga.
The gathering heard a number of presentations and reflections. In the opening Keynote Address, Rt Rev Richard Ellena, Bishop of Nelson, stressed the importance of placing Jesus at the centre of all that was discussed at the Youth Synod, and walking together.
Rev Jolyon White, Director of Anglican Advocacy, Christchurch, spoke to the gathering on being clear about the goals of our advocacy, of careful and ongoing assessment of the rightness of our causes, and the deliberate and practical steps that need to be taken to deal with issues of injustice in achievable ways.
Fe‘iloakitau Kaho Tevi, Sustainable and Strategic Development Advisor from the Diocese of Polynesia, spoke on the causes and observable effects of Climate Change, of the impact of Climate Change on human lives in the Pacific, and the ethics of living within our means. The Youth Synod was challenged by Mr Tevi to carefully consider how our lifestyles and our connection to, and actions around, Climate Change affect the environment and our sisters and brothers in Tikanga Polynesia and the Pacific.
Sarah Morris, International Advocacy Manager, Unicef NZ, spoke on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, thinking globally and acting locally, and her work volunteering with Red Cross NZ in hosting a refugee family. The Youth Synod heard how Climate Change and issues of injustice have a disproportionate impact on children, especially the most vulnerable.
In mixed-Tikanga groups the Youth Synod looked at how we can address the issues of Climate Change and Refugees in our own contexts and what that might mean in practical terms as well as how we might walk together and strengthen cross-Tikanga relationships and unity.
Each Tikanga also spoke in their own forums about the theme of our gathering as well as other issues important to them. Tikanga Polynesia, reporting back to the Youth Synod, made several proposals for consideration and further action by the Tikanga Toru Youth Commission including moving from acting out of sympathy and pity for our brothers and sisters in the Pacific towards efforts and resources to acknowledge and build for resilience and disaster preparedness as well as developing resources for prayer and education around these issues for the whole Church.
The Tikanga Youth Synod in its discussion, its times of prayer and worship, and overall in the effort taken to express the Tikanga Toru Youth Commission’s values in its design underlines the fundamental importance of mutual encounter and engagement with each other as Three Tikanga such as participants have been privileged to experience in the gathering of the Youth Synod in 2016.
It is through such engagement together as Three Tikanga and the establishing and deepening of cross-Tikanga relationships that helps to grow our mutual understanding of and respect for each other and our capacity to participate in God’s holistic mission, as expressed in our common commitment to the Five Marks of Mission: “to respond to human need by loving service; to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation; and, to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.”
The engagement of young people, our present and future leaders, with the theme of the Youth Synod and their acceptance of their place at the centre of concerns for sustainable development to combat Climate Change, to fight injustice and inequality, and to welcome those displaced by unliveable situations also underlined the vital contribution young people have to make, and the importance of ensuring their voice is heard and that they have genuine participation in any decision making.
Participants have committed themselves to taking steps to work further on actions identified in small group work at our gathering and in Tikanga forums. The next meeting of Tikanga Youth Synod will take place in February 2017.
Rev Michael Tamihere, Tikanga Toru Youth Commissioner, on behalf of participants at Tikanga Youth Synod, 26-28 February, 2016.
 In this season, the Tikanga Toru Youth Commission is guided by and seeks to exemplify the following values:
We exercise unreasonable manaakitanga; not only are you welcome, but we’re committed to bridging any obstacle that stands in the way of us being together in Christ.
We work at high trust relationships; we are committed to speaking the truth in love, high trust relationships, being open, honest, and vulnerable.
We listen to each other’s talanoa; together we have a thousand stories, of who we've been, who we are and who we will be—of God and God's action. Every story, no matter the inconvenience of hearing or telling it, is important.
We operate with creativity and imagination; we have deep roots but we are not shackled to old ways of doing things. We are committed to asking, time and again, “What new work is God doing?”
We aspire to be edge-walkers; as God goes before us all, we are committed to embracing our calling to go to the margins and beyond.