By: Elise Ranck, Intern, Diocesan Advocacy team
Imagine a place in which the buzzing of busy traffic and chattering of large crowds are hushed, where the trees stand bold and close and the water laps rhythmically onto the shore, and where bird song is the loudest, most prominent feature of the landscape. There is stillness. There is peace. Nature is alive. This is Tahlee, New South Wales where last month, I spent one week at the Lausanne/World Evangelical Alliance Oceania Creation Conference. Sixty delegates from various countries in Oceania came together to listen, to share, to discuss, and to pray about creation care efforts in their own places. Visions of God’s kingdom, of God’s new earth were vibrant and abounding.
While there were several excellent opportunities to gain new ideas and apply similar environmental practices from our brothers and sisters around the Pacific, there were also many excellent opportunities to pray and dream with fellow Kiwis about our already deeply rooted efforts towards sustainable communities. Our greatest inspiration is Tāngata Whenua. Whether or not we are from this land (I am not), if we live in Aotearoa New Zealand we share a common purpose, which is to respect te whenua and joyfully and peacefully join in the tikanga of Tāngata Whenua. I, the non-indigenous, am a guest of the Māori, the ancient hosts of Aotearoa. This was a recurring theme, one which Aboriginal Christian leader Brooke Prentis identified early on at the conference*. Since I have committed to living in Aotearoa long term, I have also committed to deepening my knowledge of Tāngata Whenua, particularly mātauranga Māori.
Aotearoa truly is a leading country in the Pacific, in terms of environmental sustainability, and it is right for us to celebrate. I wonder though, how we can better acknowledge and celebrate those who first began environmental care, those who have been leading all along?
Now I am back, I plan to continue this exploration by connecting with my local marae.
*You can read more about Brooke’s work in an article about being guests on ancient lands, here.