A museum, a monument, and a powhiri

Today was still a “getting ready” day…after a good night’s sleep, three of us went off to the Auckland Museum, a place where one could easily spend three days.  The displays of Maori history and stories along with magnificent carvings were awe-inspiring, especially the incredibly large canoe carved out of one tree that seemed to be about three rooms long.  A good display too from the islands which connect with New Zealand.  There was a whole section on the nature of volcanoes and their role in forming the land we are now visiting.  The news that volcanoes erupt only every 5,000 years on average did not much to quell the concerns that this might be the year.

Some shopping and lunch in the part of Auckland called Newmarket got me equipped to deal with a much cooler time than I expected when packing up.

And later in the afternoon, again with the great host Turi Hollis as chauffeur and guide, we joined a large group of Maori, the Standing Committee, and many dignitaries to be present when the monument commemorating Sir Paul Reeves was unveiled by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the theological college.  Sir Paul was a Bishop, an Archbishop, a Governor General and the Anglican Observer at the UN.  The service was simple, and yet most moving…with greetings and hymns and prayers in Maori.  We begin to see the rhythm of speaking in this language and admire incredibly the fluency of oratory of many as they paid tribute to one of “theirs”. Rowan Williams gave a short address…speaking of a remarkable man who lived what he called a double life: one where he achieved high office and yet remained humble; where he took everyone seriously, yet didn’t take himself seriously at all.  It was such a privilege to have shared this event, for a man whose name was well known to me as a leader in both church and society, but whose roots and values were not understood by me at all.

We finished the day with dinner together, and now almost all members are here ready to begin tomorrow.   It was really good to see Peter Elliott arrive…the Canadian team is not complete.  We begin early and are trucked off to attend a Maori powhiri, a formal welcome for us all to this land of theirs.  Formal in this case means formal in dress…and women wear skirts or dresses, an unusual occurrence for me.

Off to bed in anticipation of a good solid night’s sleep in readiness for the special day ahead.