Parliament's Speaker David Carter today announced that the traditional prayer he uses to open daily sittings of Parliament will remain as is, with its Christian references.

He undertook a very low-key consultation process with MPs and offered an alternative that would remove religious references to "Almight God" and "Jesus Christ our Lord" from the English version.

However his alternative prayer included lines in Maori - E te Atua Kaha Rawa - that translates to "Almighty God," something Assistant Speaker Trevor Mallard described as "almost dishonest."

As well as that, the Speaker would have included a daily acknowledgment to the local tribe Te Ati Awa.

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Mr Carter would entertain no debate on an alternative; it would be either the current prayer or the alternative he proposed.

He refused any comment, clearly seeing it as a matter only for MPs.

Today he issued a statement saying: "A substantial majority of members expressed a view to retain the existing prayer. I intend to respect that wish."

THE PRESENT PRAYER (with religious references highlighted)

Almighty God,
Humbly acknowledging our need for Thy guidance in all things, and laying aside all private and personal interests, we beseech Thee to grant that we may conduct the affairs of this House and of our country to the glory of Thy holy name, the maintenance of true religion and justice, the honour of the Queen, and the public welfare, peace, and tranquillity of New Zealand, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE REJECTED ALTERNATIVE

E te Atua Kaha Rawa
(Translation: Almighty God)
Ka whakamanawa taua hunga katoa kua riro atu i mua i a tatau - moe mai okioki
(We honour those who have gone before us - rest, slumber on)
We recognise the mana whenua, Te Ati Aawa, the kaitiaki of this region, Te Upoko-o-Te-Ika-a-Maui.
We acknowledge the need for guidance and lay aside all private and personal interests so that we may conduct the affairs of this House for the maintenance of justice, the honour of the Queen and the public welfare, peace, and tranquillity of New Zealand.
Amine
(Amen).