Kia ora e te whanau

Well, I have reached the end of my first week with you at St Andrews on The Terrace. I am honoured and happy to be with you: honoured because of St Andrew’s reputation for good community, progressive scholarship and engagement with the wider community; happy because you have been my spiritual home previously. I was part of the community during Jim Stuart’s time when I was Spiritual Carer at Mary Potter Hospice. I convened the pastoral group, served on the parish council and preached on occasion. I was even ordained here, into the Mary Potter Hospice job. I left in 2004 when Allen and I moved to Canberra. We lived there and in Brussels until December 2018 when we moved back to Wellington. We now enjoy life by the sea in Eastbourne.

During my time in Canberra I completed a PhD in history at the Australian National University’s National Centre of Biography, writing about New Zealand-born Australian artist Rosalie Gascoigne. Since then I have freelanced as a historian, most recently collaborating with hapū in Te Tai Tokerau Northland working on a history of their school which operated from 1902-1973. I have strong links to the area through my maternal grandmother’s family who came to New Zealand as part of the Highland Scottish-Nova Scotian migration to Waipu. I believe it is past time for truthful histories to be recorded about colonisation in the area and I feel the pull to do what I can in collaboration with local hapū and iwi.

One of many things the Covid-19 pandemic has halted is an exhibition at the Whangarei Museum, Kiwi North, about the school at Takahiwai founded in 1902 and closed in 1973. It’s a story of colonial education policies that were a mix of the best – altruism and benevolence in the government’s commitment to develop integrated schooling – and the worst – assimilationist policies shaped by notions of racial and cultural superiority. The exhibition, based on my research and writing in collaboration with Dr Mere Kepa from local hapū, is now on hold and we have no idea at this stage whether or when it might be shown.

This reflects Covid-19’s impact on our lives. So much has been put on hold. The future is filled with uncertainty. But I consider myself fortunate to live in a country where good leadership and good science are managing Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to the pandemic in a way that inspires confidence. But still, we are living in an extraordinary time of change and uncertainty. We don’t know when or how we will come through this time but we know our hope and strength come from beliefs based in love, rather than fear. We enjoy the support of this community of ours at St Andrews. Know that you are not alone, that many of us struggle with similar questions, concerns, uncertainties. Know that you can turn to us if you need support in any way. Know that we are here for you.



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