Some 700 mourners have attended the funeral of Archbishop Brown Turei, one of the leaders of the Anglican Church in New Zealand, Aotearoa and Polynesia, The service marked the end of a six-day traditional Maori funeral rite – a tangi - which took place across three locations. Archbishop Brown, who was highly respected for his ability to relate to people across all races and cultures, was the oldest Primate in the Anglican Communion. He died at the age of 92.
In line with Maori custom, a prayer service began at dawn, which tradition dictates is the time when the lid of the casket is closed for the final time. Mourners continued to arrive for several more hours until the main funeral service.
Bishop-elect Don Tamihere preached, giving a brief and light-hearted account of Archbishop Brown’s early life – and at each turning point in his story repeated the refrain from the Gospel reading: “The heavens opened, the Spirit of God descended, and a voice was heard from Heaven.”
Archbishop Brown’s son William spoke with humour of his father’s passion for sport and for golf in particular: at the age of 75, he was still driving the ball the length of the fairway, and still setting course records.
The Bishop-elect also said that it was inevitable that Archbishop Brown’s tangi would be held in the location it was – Kauaetangohia - because that’s where he’d spent his early childhood, and no matter how high he rose through the ranks, he’d retained a childlike trust. And the bishop-elect urged his hearers to do likewise: “to become as little children”, he said, and to place their trust in a loving, forgiving God.”