Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Archbishop of Canterbury thrills Kiwi followers

The Archbishop of Canterbury has thrilled his New Zealand followers on what will be his last international engagement as the head of the Anglican Church.

The Most Reverend Rowan Williams - the 104th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Saint Augustine of Canterbury - today preached to some 1300 people at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland's Parnell.

The Anglican Consultative Council, which is chaired by Dr Williams, began its two-week New Zealand meeting in Manukau yesterday. It is the biggest and most influential international Anglican gathering ever to be held in this country, the church said in a statement.

The gathering will discuss how the church responds to such issues as environmental change, domestic violence and gay marriage.

Dean of Auckland at Holy Trinity Cathedral the Very Reverend Jo Kelly-Moore said Dr Williams' visit was "as big as it gets" for New Zealand's Anglican community.

"He is an extremely wise, learned and graceful man and his generosity to come down to these islands is great. And obviously, for Anglicans he's very much a spiritual figurehead, so to have him here is a great thrill."

This will be Dr Williams' last major international engagement before he retires in December.

He will also visit Waikato and Christchurch, while other delegates will preach in 32 cathedrals and churches across the country.

- APNZ

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