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First Polynesia Bishop for NZ

Posted on: January 14, 2005 3:49 PM
Related Categories: New Zealand

The Anglican Diocese of Polynesia has elected its first Bishop for Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Venerable Dr Winston Halapua (59) is based in Auckland where he has served as Principal of the Diocese of Polynesia Theological College and Archdeacon since 1996. Dr Halapua has a Tongan background and is a Fijian citizen but he sees himself as a "multicultural person". He has studied Christian mission and ministry in Tonga, Fiji, England, Israel and Aotearoa New Zealand.

As Bishop for the Polynesian Anglican community in this country, Dr Halapua will have pastoral oversight for all the peoples of Polynesia in Aotearoa New Zealand. This will include oversight for existing Samoan, Tongan and Fijian congregations.

He is excited about his appointment which he hopes will strengthen Polynesian mission for the Anglican Church. "My passion is the zeal for mission," he says. "There is a huge opportunity here to build a unique mission for Pacific people - grounded in this country." A scholar in sociology, Dr Halapua is keenly aware of the importance of culture and context in the task of Christian mission.

"We have to make the mission of God more effective and relevant here. We have second and third-generation Pacific Islanders and others who have come here recently and struggled to settle. The mission among them needs to respond to those different voices and needs."

Dr Halapua refers to his personal style as "we" leadership, where the whole community leads the mission of the church. "I see my appointment as bishop as a way of making the mission of all the members of the church more visible and accessible."

Dr Halapua will continue as Principal of the College of the Diocese of Polynesia, and as a lecturer at the School of Theology, University of Auckland. He will operate as bishop out of his own home. He sees this as part of the Pacific way of doing mission.

"Our ministry is family-orientated and works across different cultures, different churches and different faiths. At the moment a lot of Pacific Anglicans are worshipping in separate congregations. Now with a bishop in this country they are looking forward to gathering to share Pacific spirituality - with that community to bring their kids up in."

Dr Halapua's own family is steeped in service to the church. He met his wife, the Rev'd Susan Halapua, as a fellow theology student in England. His sister, Eleanoa Mancini, was recently ordained the first Tongan woman priest in the Diocese of Polynesia. Winston's late father, the Right Rev'd Fine Halapua, was made Suffragan Bishop in Nuku'alofa and Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Polynesia in 1967.

Two More Bishops

The Diocese of Polynesia has also announced two other new bishops who will build on existing roles of priest and ministry educator in Fiji.

The Rev'd Gabriel Sharma has been elected Bishop of Viti Levu West and will operate from his parish base in Lautoka. The Venerable Apimeleki Qilio has been elected Bishop of Vanua Levu and Taveuni and will continue as Diocesan Ministry Educator.