Covid-19 alert level 4 restrictions meant the 2020 Hui Aranga scheduled to be based at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, over Easter did not take place physically – but Māori Catholics still came together using modern communications tools like Zoom and Facebook.
Tomairangi Mareikura and Rāwiri Tinirau – the vice-chair and chair of Te Kaunihera Matua o Te Hui Aranga (the governance entity for the Hui Aranga) – told NZ Catholic in a statement that several thousand Māori Catholics were able to participate online in karakia/Miha (services/Masses) on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
“Primarily, two karakia/Miha were held via Zoom (Good Friday at 3pm – The Passion; and Easter Sunday at 10am – The Resurrection),” they said.
“The Zoom hui were hosted by Che Wilson of the Ruapehu Māori Catholic Club, supported by the Ngāti Rangi office (Ohakune). The karakia/Miha were developed in conjunction with, and presided over by, Pā Piripi (Phil) Cody, Pā Rāwiri (Dave) Gledhill (both of whom are based at Pukekaraka, Ōtaki) and Deacon Danny Karatea-Goddard.
“All Māori Catholic clubs affiliated to Te Kaunihera Matua o Te Hui Aranga were invited to participate in the delivery of the karakia with readings, mihimihi (greetings) and waiata (song) being shared across the 14 clubs of our Hui Aranga. All members of the Hui Aranga were invited to attend karakia/Miha from their bubbles, dressed in their respective club uniforms.”
Most of those who participated through Zoom did so as whānau groups. Zoom allows up to 100 participating links, and organisers estimate 300-500 people took part this way.
“Karakia were also streamed live via both the Ngāti Rangi and Hui Aranga group Facebook pages,” Ms Mareikura and Dr Tinirau said.
“The Facebook statistics tell us that these events had a reach in excess of 7000, with the videos having been viewed, shared and replayed over 3600 times with over 2500 engagements. Based on these numbers, and the number of active viewers during the livestreams, we calculate up to 2000 attendees at each karakia.”
Usually, as well as religious services, prayers and hospitality, Hui Aranga include activities like kapa haka (performing arts), sports and a religious quiz.
“The Hui Aranga Facebook page also allowed for Hui Aranga members to share their memories of past Hui Aranga and what it means to them, as well as sharing stories, pictures and videos of how they chose to celebrate Easter this year in their homes,” Ms Mareikura and Dr Tinirau said.
“Many chose to practise as best they could through the various Hui Aranga activities, including kapa haka, sports, religious quiz and the celebration hākari (feast/dinner) on Easter Sunday.”
Nonetheless, those who intended to be at the 2020 Hui Aranga were naturally saddened it could not take place this year.
“[But] all were understanding of the situation and in full support that, as a Māori community, a Catholic community and as a country, we needed to do this in order to keep ourselves and each other safe,” Ms Mareikura and Dr Tinirau said.
Some 1200 people from the 14 clubs across the North Island were expected to attend this year’s Hui Aranga. The 14 clubs affiliated to Te Kaunihera Matua o Te Hui Aranga come from Te Tai Tokerau (Northland), Tauranga Moana, Whanganui/Ruapehu, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay, Manawatū and Wellington.
The 2021 Hui Aranga is to be hosted by Waipatu, in the Hawkes Bay. As the hosts, Waipatu will form a management committee to organise the event.