Preparing to Serve and Thrive as Māori

Joining Carey’s new Ngā Pou Amorangi (Māori Leadership Training programme) has been a journey of tuakiri (identity) and koronga (purpose/aspiration) for Matt and Rachel Renata. It is a journey of great significance regarding their faith in Jesus, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the future of Māori and Tangata Tiriti (People of the Treaty) in Aotearoa.

“I can feel God is doing something huge,” says Matt. “Not only at Carey, but in the Church of Aotearoa.”

Nestled within the arms of Carey’s Te Whare Oranga (Māori learning space), Ngā Pou Amorangi was launched this year to equip people for servant leadership within Te Ao Māori and other bicultural contexts. It also gives Māori a forum to explore what it means to be Māori and Christian. 

Rachel says, “Ngā Pou Amorangi is different to our other classes. We operate within a tikanga Māori framework and that creates an ideal space for us to learn. Like in the past, we don’t feel we have to leave our Māori at the Church door anymore. We feel like we’re now allowed to be all of who God has created us to be and we are thriving.”

The three year programme involves three strands: Pou Amorangi Tuatahi (preparation for servant leadership), Pou Amorangi Tuarua (organisational servant leadership), and Pou Amorangi Tuatoru (strategic servant leadership). Students grow in confidence and explore kingdom building strategies through a Māori worldview. Alongside weekly formation hui, learners attend wananga, engage in supervised ministry within a Māori context, and receive one-on-one mentoring.

Matt says that “when I first heard about Ngā Pou Amorangi, I was excited that we were able to be taught Christian leadership from a Māori perspective and equipped as young Māori leaders emerging within the Church. I’m encouraged to be Māori, be Christian and learn theological stuff all at the same time. God’s taking me to deeper parts of myself that have never explored before and it’s affecting the way I think, the way I teach, and the way I interact with God’s people and His Word.”

It wasn’t a quick decision for Matt and Rachel to up-root from their home in Wellington. Rachel was part-time Youth Pastor at Hutt City Baptist and Teacher-aide at Kimi Ora, a school for young people with disabilities. Matt was founder and coordinator for one the biggest youth development networks in the country and spent the past 10 years serving the young people of Te Awakairangi. But after prayer and fasting they both felt God saying, “I’m calling you up and out and I need you need to trust me in this. I’ve got something bigger going on that you don’t understand yet, but you have to step out in faith and trust me.”

Carey is really excited about this new initiative. Dr John Tucker, Carey’s principal, says that “Carey’s strength has always been in forming leaders for ministry and mission. With this programme we’ll be equipping leaders who can embody the Good News of Jesus Christ through te ao Māori and develop innovative expressions of what it means to be the Church within Aotearoa today.”

In recent years, Carey has become an increasingly intercultural community and, says, John, “Nga Pou Amorangi is another step in that direction. We want to be a learning community that takes the gospel seriously within this land. We want to be a community that models how to journey faithfully as Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti.” 

Rachel and Matt can sense this heart in the college: “How do you go from being unintentionally token, saying “Kia Ora” at the beginning of your service to tick a cultural box, to having meaningful and purposeful intentions of being inclusive? Coming to Carey, you can see the College is following God’s promptings and are taking active steps. One example is by Carey making the “Te Ao Māori” paper mandatory for all theology students and another is obviously by creating a leadership training stream from a Māori worldview.”

Matt said that, “it’s encouraging to see that Carey has created aspects within the College where all the students who are training to be pastors or leaders in the church, will build their theological foundation with the understanding of how important Te Ao Māori is. For the generations of theology students before, it’s been a wrestle and painful at times. But for this generation, it’s going to be normal. They’re going to go back to the church and advocate for Te Tiriti, Te Ao Maori and God’s truth.”

Like the many different colours of the poutama in the Carey principal’s cloak, all cultures belong and are welcome at Carey. It’s a college that aspires to be like that great multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language that will one day worship before the throne and the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-10).