Archbishops Brown Turei, Bishop of Aotearoa; and Philip Richardson, senior bishop of the New Zealand dioceses, asked Archbishop Winston Halapua, Bishop of Polynesia, to prepare an Easter message to the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, on their behalf.
Mindful of the destruction unleashed by last month’s cyclone, Archbishop Winston shares this Easter message.
Easter hope follows the storm
See those guys in the dirt under that floor?
They’re the Easter message for me.
During the worst that Tropical Cyclone Winston could throw at their koro, or village – and Fiji has never known a cyclone of such terrible and destructive force – they sheltered there.
They spent four hours huddled together, with five other members of their family.
Soaked. Waiting, with lotu [prayer] and trembling, for the angel of death to pass.
They emerged from under the floor to new life.
Under that floor to me – that looks like the tomb.
And underneath the floor, you have the generations.
There’s the grandfather on the left, there’s the daughter-in-law, and that’s the grandchild.
Three generations: on Good Friday, we were all under the floor.
On Easter Day, we arise from there.
But when the people of Maniava came out from under their floors, there was nothing.
Nothing left standing.
But we are going to build again. Together.
We’re already doing so.
We’re already beginning to build a new and better life.
That’s the hope of Easter.
The beautiful valley of Ra has known devastation this Lent.
The neat and ordered village of Maniava has known the cruelty of chaos.
When I arrived in Maniava, I saw the terrible impact that TC Winston had made.
As I paused and took breath, I looked at the people.
I saw in them the face of Christ. In their eyes, I saw sadness.
But despite everything, I also saw hope.
Yes, there is hope.
I celebrated the Easter Day Eucharist above those floorboards in 2014.
Directly above where those three in the photo are huddled.
We gathered in the home of the chief, the turaga ni koro (village headman) – which is where Maniava has always met for worship.
Easter Day 2014, in the chief's home at Maniava. This was destroyed in the cyclone, and the chief's family survived by sheltering under the floor.
Photo: Anglican Taonga
And one of the messages this year for me is that while many will celebrate Easter Day in magnificent places. . . there are other people who will celebrate a very powerful Easter – but with no roof above them, and no shelter around them.
How do we and others continue to help here?
Well, the devastation caused to Fijian homes, businesses, plantations, schools, community halls, churches, electricity lines, wharfs, bridges, and boats has to be seen to be believed.
But people are caring for one another. They are pulling together to help.
The Prime Minister and the Government here have acted promptly and effectively to co-ordinate rescue and relief work, and what Australia and New Zealand have already given is greatly appreciated.
But there is an issue here that lies beneath what has happened.
It’s not an issue that we can afford to go into, right now.
But it’s there, nonetheless, and I firmly believe it’s the reason why this cyclone was so destructive.
And that’s the issue of climate change.
What I’m saying to Australia and New Zealand is that it’s good that you help us so generously.
You know it.
But we also desperately need to address climate change.
We need to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.
Will you help us in that way, too?
Archbishop Winston Halapua, Bishop of Polynesia
Archbishop Philip Richardson, Senior Bishop of the New Zealand Dioceses.
Archbishop Brown Turei, Bishop of Aotearoa.