beautiful monsters: October 2007 Archives

October 30, 2007

words to say...

Sometimes I feel really uncomfortable using words that were used in the church I went to as a teenager. Words like “worship”, which carries connotations of the worship team singing soppy pop songs with lyrics like “Jesus, lover of my soul, Jesus, I will never let you go… I love you, I need you… Though my world may fall, I’ll never let you go…” while everyone closed their eyes or cried or waved their arms ecstatically.

I want to reclaim some of the words. I want to somehow shake away all the negative connotations and use them again without cringing.

I’m starting with the word “blessing”.

The word blessing will no longer be associated with a male God bestowing divine favour. It will not have connotations of a “father” who will “shower” me with these blessings if I pray enough, read the bible enough, close my eyes and wave my hands around ecstatically. It will no longer remind me of people laying their hands on someone and praying “Father Lord I just really pray Lord that you will really bless her and you will just touch her Lord, and really just bless her father Lord with the power of your love.” It will no longer make me think of a “Lord” giving members of the worship team enviable gifts like “tongues” or being “slain in the spirit”.

Instead the word blessing will describe the loveliness and wonder of things that can’t really be described or explained with “I’m so lucky”.

Blessing will now be associated with:
The almost-invisible beauty of a spider web trembling between two twigs.
Witnessing the first time a baby learns to make a mark with a crayon on paper, and the utter delight that bursts from her when people clap and cheer at her success.
Sun that makes the hills glow golden against the grey sky, that dances over water, that shines through leaves like stained glass.

And love.
Love that comes “like a sudden flight of birds / from earth to heaven after rain.”*
Love that hums through every day like a cello string that keeps singing after the bow is lifted.
Love that opens like a flower to the sun.
Love that fills each day with emotions that can only be described in the cheesiest of clichés.
Love that is like coming home, that is like the place to turn to, when tears well up, when tiredness overwhelms, when joy needs to be shared.
Love that is constantly surprising, like the first glimpse of spring flowers bursting into the world…and yet so comfortable, like the pages of a well read book that have faced each other for years, that make no sense on their own, but together a story flows through them.

I feel so blessed.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 04:59 PM | TrackBack

October 18, 2007

police raids

What do avocados, community gardens, and kids from the kohanga reo have in common? Everything is so surreal this week...

Some details below about Wellington events to support the "Urewera 17." I know several of the people who have been arrested, and have a lot of respect for them, having worked with them on issues such as keeping Aotearoa GE Free NZ, peace action, and building community gardens. Sometimes I get irritated with some people in the Wellington protest scene who seem to get angry, confrontational and antagonistic for the sake of it... but these people I know in the context of planting native trees and vegetables as part of the campaign against the bypass. I don’t know any of them well, but I have been struck by their gentleness and creativity, and it really saddens me to think of them being in prison right now. So I'd encourage you to come along to any of the events if you can - especially the 128 open day - it's an amazing community space and well worth checking out.

My old flatmate Sam is the caretaker at 128, and was interviewed on Nine to Noon where he talked about the police taking away papers and bags of clothes, and then bringing some of the evidence back because it wasn't integral to the investigation - some (literal) dirty laundry and a backpack containing two avocadoes, some carrots and a loaf of bread. Presumably when they seized the avocados they must have suspected they were relevant to a terrorist plot? The mind boggles. You can hear the interview with Sam on the RadioNZ podcast page.

And regardless of whether I'm completely wrong about the people I've met, and they are actually planning a violent terrorist plot (?!!?!) the events that have unfolded in Ruatoki are appalling. I don't care what "evidence" they've found against a few individuals up there - it's not a justification for the police terrorising children. What would the reaction be if the armed offenders squad had been running around with guns, stopping busloads of children, shutting kids in rooms while their parents are interrogated, in downtown Wellington? And yet that sort of action seems to be justifiable in a small Maori community. And setting up the roadblock on the confiscation line?! I’m disgusted and ashamed that this kind of thing is happening in our country.

Also the websites and are down, and rumour has it that the servers have been confiscated... ?!!

Anyway, I’m pasting below a letter from a friend, Wayne Te Kaawa who's a minister in the Presbyterian Maori Synod, and knows more about what’s going on in that neck of the woods.

Also the South Pactific Christian Anarchists are organsing a "Survival Skills Training Camp" in the Kaimai range this weekend, in response to the events this week ...wish I could go! But sadly I have to teach Sunday School... Bringing up the next generation of "terrorists" and all that.

The “anti-terrorist” legislation really scares me... especially the thought of us submitting to US-led assessments of who is a terrorist. Yikes. But organisations such as Amnesty International, Christian World Service, and the Human Rights Commission are much more articulate than I can be about the concerns with the legislation.

Outside the District Court yesterday I held a sign that said “Jesus… Te Whiti… Gandhi… were they terrorists too?” Some of my heroes of non-violent resistance would be endangered by this legislation if they lived in Aotearoa right now… and anyone who supported them would be affected too.

Mind you, 2000 years ago they might not have used the word “terrorism” but they had ways of dealing with people who caused too much disruption…

Nga mihi nui,

A summary of the upcoming events happening in and around
Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) in support of the Urewera 17.

Friday 19 Oct

10am: Solidarity demonstration at Wellington District Court in support
of the 4 local prisoners' application for bail.

7pm: Fundraising film showing of 'The Revolution Will Not Be
Televized' at the Film Archive, Ghuznee St

From 7:30pm: PunkFest '07 at Wellington Car Club, Russel St. Food Not
Bombs will be taking koha for prisoner support.

Saturday 20 Oct

12 midday: small action in solidarity with the actions in Otautahi and

12 midday - 5pm: open day at 128 Abel Smith St. Come along and see the
home of the incendiary avacados.

7pm: Fundraising film showing of 'The Revolution Will Not Be
Televized' at the Film Archive, Ghuznee St

From 7:30pm: PunkFest '07 at Wellington Car Club, Russel St. Food Not
Bombs will be taking koha for prisoner support.

Tuesday 23 Oct

6pm: Prisoner support meeting at 128 Abel Smith St. Open to all.

Saturday 27 Oct

9pm: Fundraising gig at Happy, Tory St featuring the Mr Sterile
Ensemble and guests.

Peace Action Wellington


An open letter to PCANZ
16th October 2007

Re: Terrorism and Ruatoki

I write this as an open letter to all members of PCANZ in relation to the Terrorist events in Ruatoki in the last 48 hours and indeed the insult to the Tuhoe Nation. I am an Ordained Minister of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and I am also a proud descendent of the Tuhoe Nation.

The events in Ruatoki during the last 48 hours are nothing new to the Tuhoe people. In the mid to late 1800s colonial forces invaded the Urewera searching for the religious leader Te Kooti employing the scorched earth policy that forced Tuhoe into starvation and subsequently confiscated much of their lands. In 1916 the Urewera was again invaded by armed police who shot and killed two people while arresting the Tuhoe religious leader Rua Kenana. Growing up in Tuhoe country as children we would often hear stories of those times, today our children will now grow up telling stories of when armed police invaded the Tuhoe Nation in 2007 and held guns frightening children and old people. These atrocities and terrorists acts by the police and the Government upon Tuhoe sovereignty must stop.

The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand has maintained good relationships with the Tuhoe Nation primarily through the good relations between John Laughton and Rua Kenana and Sister Annie Henry and the people of Ruatahuna, Miss Webber and the people of Waiohau, Nurse Doull and Mrs Annie Gorrie and the people of Waimana and Dr North and the people of Te Whaiti. These relationships have for us become covenant relationship serving as a model of bi-culturlism within the Presbyterian Church and a model of partnership for the entire country. The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand has a covenanted relationship with the Tuhoe Nation that is both historical and in good faith.

The valley of Ruatoki has given the Presbyterian Church some valuable leaders. Most notable being the late Rev Purewa Biddle and the late Rev Sonny and Mona Riini. I must also mention that Tame Iti himself is from a Presbyterian background with his mother being a long serving Elder of the Church and Tame Iti a Sunday school child of the Maori Synod. Te Aka Puaho continues to develop its ministry and mission in Ruatoki through the good ministry of Taneatua the Rev John Wharekotuku (Tamiana) Thrupp and his wife Honey Thrupp and two of our current Amorangi students are also from Ruatoki awaiting Ordination in 2008.

Currently the Rev John Wharekotuku (Tamiana) Thrupp and his wife Honey Thrupp both of Ruatoki are providing pastoral care and leadership to their people during this time. They have reported that there is a great sense of anger and hurt amongst the people of the valley in particular with innocent people being held at gun point, children also being frightened by police with guns and children being stranded by police arresting their parents.

It is sad that these events have transpired two months after the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Tuhoe people provided a model to this country of redemption and reconciliation in regards to returning former confiscated lands. This was a major undertaking of which I am particularly proud of my Presbyterian Churches actions.

I encourage every member of the Presbyterian Church to write to the Prime Minister the Hon Helen Clark and the Minister of Police and register their disapproval of the events in Ruatoki during the last 48hours.

I also ask that you keep in your prayers the following:

1 The Rev John Wharekotuku (Tamiana) Thrupp and his wife Honey Thrupp

2 Our Amorangi students from Ruatoki, Selwyn Pryor and Wi Tapere Te Pairi.

3 Our ministry and mission within the valley of Ruatoki

4 Our ministry and mission to the Tuhoe people.

Finally I ask that people pray for a peaceful resolution to the weeks events and that justice will prevail.

We await with interest the police evidence to prove these outrageous claims of Terrorist camps in Ruatoki and the Urewera.

Yours in Christ

Rev Wayne Manaaki Rihari Te Kaawa
Te Ahorangi o Te Wananga a Rangi

Posted by Fionnaigh at 01:04 PM | TrackBack