A Hokitika minister has been elected Bishop of Te Waipounamu in the Anglican Maori Church.

Richard Wallace, currently archdeacon of Te Tai o Poutini, the West Coast, was elected by the church in late September, and the news was announced in churches on Sunday.

Wallace is also upoko (head) of the West Coast's Te Runanga o Makaawhio, and as such becomes the first Ngai Tahu leader in active iwi governance to be elected bishop.

He replaces the late Bishop John Grey, who died earlier this year.

In his new role Wallace will have episcopal oversight of Anglican Maori for the whole of the South Island. Although he will be based in Christchurch, he will not be entirely lost to the West Coast, having promised to visit all the regions he is responsible for at least twice a year. He became archdeacon for the West Coast in 2000.

Wallace said today the position of bishop was not one he initially sought, but after being asked by a senior priest if he would consider standing he decided he would. No one was elected during the diocese's first electoral college but Wallace was successful at the second.

He brings years of experience in youth and ministry education to the role, ranging from overseeing apprenticeships to tutoring in ministry, chaplaincy and social work, and teaching iwi development.

- Greymouth Star