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11 November 2022

Letter: Church setup- Mamae e ngakau

Wednesday 27 March 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


Letter: Church setup- Mamae e ngakau

Dear Editor, Last Sunday I went to Church, the Avarua Christian Church, a usual practice that I’ve done over many years growing up as a child from the village of Tupapa. As I approached the front steps of the Church, I noticed that the front had been upgraded and looked good. There were the usual men greeting arrivals and we exchanged pleasantries warmly.

I then proceeded to enter the main hall of the Church and I was pleasantly surprised at the renovations that had taken place. It looked beautiful with a huge red Crucifix sited on the wall, the whole front of the Church looked stunning, almost like a Hollywood stage. It was impressive.

As we approached our usual traditional pews, I noticed that it was missing, in fact, it was replaced by an elevated flooring of three steps high. I was sad and disappointed with the layout but seated my family at the two front rows of the village pews.

People started populating most seats. Vakatini Ariki soon entered and seated himself alone at the opposite side of his Tapere – the Takuvaine side, soon Karika Ariki entered alone and seated next to Vakatini. Dignitaries arrived and seated themselves on the Tupapa and Maraerenga side of the elevated stage ed, traditionally reserved for Vakatini and mataiapos of tapere Tupapa. I was intrigued and surprised with such a setup.

The Church services started and the singing was once more uplifting as ever. I was once more home and in the sanctuary of my own Church and its established protocols and customs – I enjoyed it.

However, during the service, there was a lingering thought floating in my head. For all the four changes that took place earlier in the Avarua Church since 1974 with David Bowie’s filming in the Church, the changes have kept the integrity of seating arrangements to the traditional village layout – Vakatini Ariki surrounded by traditional leaders of the village and the rest of the village. The same setup with Karika Ariki and mataiapos and his village.

My question is, why has the seating arrangements been changed? Why are the Arikis segregated from their village foundations? Were they aware and informed of these changes? Were the people informed and how do they feel about it? Are they receptive to these wholesale changes… a real departure from tradition?

I am grieved by the change and feel sad. From what I have been informed, the consultation process was non-existent but a unilateral directive by a few with no considerations of customs and protocols. Today, many young people are seeking their roots and identities, why has the Church seen fit to make changes without due care for people who have been foundations of the Avarua Church.

God Bless.

Tetupuariki (Tupu) Araiti