[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The oldest Primate in the Anglican Communion, Archbishop William Brown Turei of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, will retire at the end of March 2017 at the age of 92. Archbishop Turei is one of three equal-status Primates in the Province. He will step down as Te Pihopa ki Te Tai Rawhiti (Bishop of Tairawhiti) at the end of this year; and as Te Pihopa o Aotearoa (Archbishop responsible for the Maori Tikanga, (cultural stream) of the Church) at the end of March 2017. At the time of his retirement, Archbishop Turei will have served for more than 65 years in ordained ministry.
His two-stage retirement is to allow for Tairāwhiti and Waipounamu to elect new Bishops and have full representation in place before the election for a new Bishop of Aotearoa is convened.
“It will give me great peace of mind to be able to leave Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa and Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tairāwhiti knowing that they are settled and prepared for the future,” he said. “Now is the season for new leadership, new vision and ideas, and a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to come and lead the church forward. I am very excited about the new generation of young leaders waiting in the wings, and I can’t wait to see what God will do through them.”
Several Anglican Provinces have more than one Archbishop, many of which are recognised as primates of internal provinces – such as the Archbishop of York in the Church of England. But the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia is unique in having three equal-status Primates recognised as such by the rest of the Communion.
The Church is based on three Tikanga, or cultural streams. One serves Aotearoa – the Maori branch of the Church; another serves the Pākehā – European settlers to New Zealand and their descendants; while another serves Polynesia. Each of the three Tikanga is led by a Bishop who, together, are Archbishops of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia.
The Archbishops and Primates of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia: Philip Richardson (Pākehā / New Zealand); Brown Turei (Maori / Aotearoa); and Winston Halapua (Polynesia).
Photo: Anglican Taonga
Archbishop Turei said that serving as a deacon, priest and bishop in the Church had been “the great privilege of my life”
He added: “I am indebted to Christ, and to my wife, family and all those who helped me along the way. It is my hope now that I may be able to retire with the dignity and the honour that the roles I have carried so rightly deserve.”
His fellow Archbishops, Philip Richardson of New Zealand and Winston Halapua of Polynesia, said in a statement: “There will be opportunities for this Church to offer our thanksgiving to Almighty God for the extraordinary service and generosity of this humble servant of God and for the ministry and support of his beloved wife Mihi, their children and grandchildren.”
Archbishop Turei was born in 1924 in Opotiki, in the eastern Bay of Plenty in the North Island of New Zealand. He was earmarked for the priesthood from his young days, and spent a short stint at College House, in Christchurch. But when war broke out he took leave from his studies to enlist with C Company of the 28 Maori Battalion. After the war, he returned to St John's College, in Auckland, and he was ordained a priest in 1950.
He was chosen as Archdeacon of Tairawhiti in 1982, and has had a long association with Hukarere Maori Girls’ College. He became the chaplain there in 1984, and he also served as chaplain of the Napier Prison for four years.
His election as Te Pihopa ki Te Tai Rawhiti (Bishop of Tairawhiti) in 1992, followed the Provincial reforms in 1990 that established the three Tikanga. In 2005 he was elected Te Pihopa o Aotearoa (Bishop of Aotearoa) and installed as Primate and Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia the following year.
He will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop on 7 March 2017. Earlier this year, he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his services to the Church.