International Anglican Family Network Oceania Consultation on ‘Violence and the Family’
Lower Hutt, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand - 27 October to Sunday 31 October 2010
“Tonight the conch is blown to signal the ending of violence.” These words were spoken by Archbishop Winston Halapua, co-presiding Bishop in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, as he welcomed participants to a Consultation for Oceania on ‘Violence and the Family’.
Organised by the International Anglican Family Network in partnership with the Family Centre based in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand, the five-day Consultation gathered together Anglicans involved in family and community ministries from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, Australia, Vanuatu, and Aotearoa New Zealand.
As participants discussed their own experience and activities and engaged with a range of presenters, a model action plan for responding to violence in the family soon emerged. First, meet and share with others, speak up about the reality of violence in families and commit to taking action. Identify the values and beliefs that promote safety, autonomy and respect, finding the points of harmony between the values of your Christian faith and the best of your cultural heritage. Connect with others who have skills and resources. Look for community- and strengths-based solutions. Take the challenge to church and traditional leadership for their support.
Throughout the Consultation there was an emphasis on supporting indigenous or locally appropriate responses to violence. In the Pacific context, this meant restoring cultural concepts of ririki (children) and whánau (the extended family), of manhood and womanhood and the relationship between them, and giving full value to talanoa – the Pacific concept of honest conversation that includes a deep listening to who we are, what we need, and what we do as members of a shared community.
Di Grennell, Executive Director of the Amokura Family Violence Prevention Strategy in the north of New Zealand, reflected that “if we ignore violence in the family we are behaving as if some people don’t matter, and often these people who ‘don’t matter’ are children and women”. She rejected any approach that saw men as enemies. In her work, she said, it was important to identify ‘safe men’ as well as women to lead the way to creating safe families and communities.
Charles Waldegrave and Taimalieutu Kiwi Tamasese, Coordinators of the Family Centre’s Pákehá (non-indigenous) and Pacific Sections, outlined their ‘Just Therapy’ approach to stopping violence in homes and communities which pays attention to the broader social, cultural and spiritual contexts underlying the problems experienced by those among whom they work. They also offered practical guidelines for working with victims/survivors of abuse and for working with perpetrators of violence.
Participants in the Consultation were assisted in their theological reflection on violence and the family by local Archbishops David Moxon and Winston Halapua, Bishop Muru Walters, Dr Jenny Plane Te Paa who is Ahorangi (Principal) of Te Rau Kahikatea at the College of St John the Evangelist in Auckland, and the Revd Dr Raymond Pelly, a priest and theologian attached to the Anglican Cathedral in Wellington. Archbishop Halapua framed the work of the Consultation within Moana theology, a contextual Oceanic theology which sees identity, home and environment as an interconnected gift flowing from God. Dr Te Paa described how a joint session of the bishops and spouses at the 2008 Lambeth Conference had been challenged to face up to the reality that there are wives of Anglican clergy who are victims of domestic abuse, and to commit to living in a way that reflected women’s and men’s equality in God’s sight.
Participants finally committed to a variety of action plans in their home provinces and dioceses, and having bid farewell in a poroporoaki - a traditional Máori ceremony - resolved to keep the sound of the conch reverberating across the waves and mountains, and throughout all Oceania, signalling the end of violence.
Notes to Editors
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