A proposed Anglican Communion covenant that might have been used to discipline churches which ordain gay bishops and priests has been rejected by the Maori Anglican church.

Members of Te Runanganui o te Pihopatanga of Aotearoa (the Maori Anglican Church) gathered at Te Papa-i-o-uru Marae, Ohinemutu, in Rotorua at the end of last week for a biennial meeting at which the covenant was discussed.

The covenant idea surfaced following the 1994 ordination of an openly gay bishop by the American Episcopal church.

That sparked the biggest convulsions the Anglican Communion has seen in recent years.


In the face of that uproar, The Archbishop of Canterbury set up a commission to look at ways that the Anglican Communion could stay together in the face of conflicts.

The New Zealand church's media officer Lloyd Ashton said one of the ideas that commission came up with was an Anglican Covenant. He said the covenant was proposed as something that Anglicans the world over could agree on, that would bind them together, that prescribed a way of resolving conflicts - and which spelt out disciplinary procedures if a province was found to be "acting up".

Mr Ashton said the covenant idea was rejected by Maori Anglicans because they felt it meant they would sign over their sovereignty.

Archdeacon Turi Hollis said at the meeting the proposed covenant was trying to impose on the church something that should be based on whanaungatanga (relationship) or manaakitanga (hospitality).

Rev Don Tamihere seconded the motion to reject the proposal and said the covenant was not about homosexuality.

"It is about compliance and control. We are being asked to sign over our sovereignty, our rangatiratanga to an overseas group, to a standing committee over whom we have no choice or control.

"We don't need it to have faith in Jesus Christ - we already have a covenant that binds us to our saviour, Jesus Christ. And that is the only covenant we need."

The proposed covenant will be considered by the church's General Synod in July.


The decision from the Rotorua meeting effectively binds all Maori representatives on the synod to reject the proposal.

Non-Maori dioceses are split on the matter. Wellington, Nelson and Waikato-Taranaki have expressed qualified support while Auckland, Waiapu and Dunedin have rejected it and Christchurch and the Polynesian diocese have yet to decide.

This story replaces an earlier version