Maori ceremonies to welcome the new Bishop of Ripon next month

Bishop Helen-Ann with schoolchildrenNew Zealand Maori ceremonies will play an important part in a vibrant service of welcome and licensing for the new Area Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley in February.

Maori chants, songs, speeches and ceremonial actions including the touching of foreheads and noses will open the service at Ripon Cathedral on Sunday 4 February at 3.30pm, as Bishop Helen-Ann, who was Anglican bishop of Waikato, is ceremonially brought into the cathedral by representatives of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

The group is led by Maori priests the Rev’d Canon Christopher Douglas-Huriwai and the Rev’d Ngira Simmonds and will also include Bishop Andrew Hedge, the bishop of Waiapu, in New Zealand, the Venerable Trevor Harrison, together with friends, former colleagues and family.

Bishop Helen-Ann is returning to the North-East of England where she grew up. She was ordained in Oxford diocese, and after a curacy there was appointed as the Director of Biblical Studies at Ripon College Cuddesdon.

She moved to New Zealand in 2010 with her husband Myles who is a musician and church organist, and was appointed as Bishop of Waikato in 2014.

“For Maori, the Bishop of Waikato is a treasure because the role bears the name of their sacred river, the Waikato,” said Bishop Helen-Ann. “They will be handing me over to Leeds, but it comes with a firm challenge to look after me otherwise they will come and take me back!”

During the handing over, speeches in Maori will be accompanied by the singing of a traditional ‘waiata’. Then comes the traditional ‘hongi’ greeting with foreheads and noses pressed together.

The service will recognise the connections across the worldwide Anglican Communion with music and hymns from New Zealand led by the Cathedral Choir and the newly formed Ripon Cathedral Youth Choir. “I rejoice in those links,” added Bishop Helen-Ann, “and am so deeply moved that some will be making the considerable journey to be with me on the day to join in the celebrations.”

Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, who will lead the service, said, “I warmly look forward to welcoming Helen-Ann to the diocese. Her installation and inauguration at Ripon Cathedral will involve a Maori ‘handing over’ element, and we will welcome guests from New Zealand as well as from the UK and this diocese.”


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