The Revd Jacynthia Murphy asks an important question in her contribution to the latest publication by AWSC
Growing up in a strict Catholic whānau meant that little girls had to be ‘good’ and when you get confirmed, “you will become a bride of Jesus Christ” complete with a veil and white dress! Through my teenage years I believed that it was who I was meant to be becqause I go to church. Formative years at a Māori Girls Boarding School would affirm all the teachings and the years ahead would be immersed in serving the Catholic Church in a way that was appropriate for all Catholic girls. I would ask myself often, “is this really me?” The fulfilling of other’s expectations eventually wore off as puberty gave way to a rebellious adult woman, now working in the public sector of taxis and police radio.
1997 would be a year that changed the direction in which I had been journeying for so long. A resonably successful small business woman, I moved from one state in Australia to another, and found myself doing things I’d not done before. One of these was training and subsequently delivering a community programme as a Radio Broadcaster for a fast growing ethnic radio station. Resurrecting a Māori Programme would win us an award for being the fastest growing roopu that year and we subsequently launched ‘Mano’. I loved it! The programme opened with karakia so I had to resource and develop appropriately to meet this essential cultural expectation. It helped to improve my reo and to build community networks throughout Brisbane and professionally in Aotearoa too. So, I felt that I needed to go back to church if I was to pray publicly to Māori on radio. I walked into a local Catholic parish and found that I didn’t connect. I tried another and felt the same way. I asked again, “is this really me?” One thing I knew, if I were to deliver an authentic karakia on ‘Mano’, which I thought was really me, I would need to just park that personal quandry for a bit and one morning on air, I asked if anyone knew where there was a Māori Church and the phones rang hot.
Parked outside the church I turned the engine off. The melodious hīmene was easily heard and I knew immediately that God, church, and hīmene, had been missing in my life. Turns out it was Te Hāhi Mihinare. I was there with Mum and during communion I asked the gentleman sitting next to me if he was Anglican. “No, I’m Methodist.” I turned to the gentleman sitting next to Mum. He smiled and replied, “No, I’m Ratana” but I help out at tangi sometimes. Mum, a devout Pentecostal, and I giggled. In one pew we had Methodist, Ratana, Catholic, and Pentecostal and there began my ecumenical acceptance of God’s whānau right there! I give thanks to God for the charismatic, guitar playing, joker, and preacher Māori priest-in-charge. I didn’t know that church was allowed to be so much fun! These experiences would forever shape God’s presence in my life. Bringing me out of the past and into the ‘new’ relevant God, was fun and serious at the same time!
Mano, in all its forms, helped me to appreciate how modern and traditional could serve side-by-side and that both had a place in our lives and communities. We had a tawhito (traditional) segment with an esteemed kaumatua, and we offered a contemporary twist, with yours truly, which eventually led to a segment led by rangatahi too. An exhilirating old and new Mano blossomed, side-by-side.
Fast forward to 2000 and yours truly had graduated in church duties from helping out with the cup of tea, washing up, and setting tables, to being secretary, helping to fund raise, and assist with accounts. Also by now, Mano’s repotoire of waiata, interviews, news reporting, and hīmene, had graduated considerably too. The much loved hīmene of days-of-old, Tama Ngākau Mārie and Katou Katoa rā gave way to contemporary Māori compositions from Invasion Music/Parachute Productions with hymns, Hipokina Mai, Na tō Waiora, Īmanuera, and Ngā Mea Katoa, to name a few. This would take my Karaititanga Māori to a whole new level, and it was a blessing to share it with others, on radio! Modern and traditional, side-by-side. I asked myself, “is this really me?”
You can read all of Jacynthia’s story, plus more then forty other
stories, by ordering your own copy of Talanoa, Telling our
Stories, Kōrerohia o tātou pūrakau:40 years of the Ordination
of Women to the Priesthood in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and
Available from firstname.lastname@example.org
$25 plus P&P, or $22 plus p&p, for orders of more than 5.