Who are we?
Named after the river that flows from the Raukūmara Ranges into the Waiapu plains from which the gospel was first proclaimed in Tairāwhiti; we are a community of churches, missions, and services that still seek to bring spiritual life, nourishment and hope to the communities we serve.
As a community of Christians in the Anglican tradition, there is a shared history, experience and life that binds us together.
But what does it mean to be Anglican? To learn more, click here.
The Anglican presence in the eastern side of Te Ika-a-Māui dates back to the missionary work of Māori evangelists. With their hearts touched by the message of the gospel, they returned to whānau and hapū and shared the faith. These early missionaries were then joined by Pākehā, who often found that Jesus had preceded them.
With the arrival of colonists, a more formal church presence was developed with the appointment of the first bishop of Waiapu in 1859. These early years saw the development of bi-cultural ministries and expressions, including full Synodical meeting in te Reo Māori. However, with the arrival of greater numbers of colonists and following the impact of treaty breaches and Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa/the New Zealand Wars, the diocese, with the society around it, became a far more Pākehā centred community. The early legacy of bi-cultural practice has always been a part of the Waiapu story, however, and came to the fore again with the support for Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa with the Bishop of Aotearoa originally a suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Waiapu. With the 1992 constitutional change, te Pīhopatanga become a fully independent bishopric. Since then, Waiapu has sought to foster a strong relationship between itself and te Pīhopatanga, as well as the hui amorangi with which it shares land and people; te Manawa o te Wheke and te Tairāwhiti. While there is still much work to do, this relationship is a core part of who we are and who we feel called to be in the future.
Throughout our life as a diocese, which has now stretched for more than 150 years, we have had to respond to the realities of the communities we serve and to our place in their stories. This is a practice we continue today. Present through church communities, chaplaincies, schools, and social services, we seek to be a deeply rooted, kingdom minded and locally flavoured people that help shine the light of the gospel into the lives of those we are called to.
In our midst you are not likely to find a celebrity preacher, flashy productions or the promise that Jesus can make you rich. What you will find is a people who have lived a commitment to the gospel across generations and within long-standing communities, whose heart breaks for what breaks their local people and who seek to embrace everyone in the truth of the love that God holds for them in Jesus Christ. If that resonates with you, check out our communities page to see where you may be able to join us in the work and ministry of the church near you.