An Anglican archdeacon has expressed his concerns over the Public Health Response Bill which is currently being rushed through Parliament with the intention to be passed tonight. The Act will give Police the right to enter private dwellings and marae without a warrant.
Archdeacon Te Ngira Simmonds asks, “Why do we need to specifically single out marae? What about churches? You know, People could considerably gather there in larger groups than ten. This act just seems to specifically want to single out marae, which again, I struggle with."
Simmonds serves in the Waikato area and works with the Kiingitanga. He is questioning why people can go to cinemas and malls, but can't go to church.
“A significant level of disappointment, because there’s some serious inconsistency," says.
He says he did see a positive side to the restrictions though, pointing out the silver lining in the clouds.
“It’s brought Te Hāhi Mihingare (the Anglican Church) a bit out of, shall we say out of 'Te Ao Kōwhatu'. We’ve learned about wonderful new things like Facebook and Tik Tok, those things have been really good for us."
Simmonds had a message for the Government, noting that Māori and his church had dug deep to find extraordinary solutions to deal with COVID-19.
He's challenged Government to do the same.
“Are these latest levels of guidelines and restrictions – are they extraordinary? I would suggest that there are not."
He assured the public that while he could not speak for the entire church, that his area of jurisdiction had decided not to hold meetings.
“Our primary concern remains for te tiaki i ngā kaumātua. The fact that the majority of our people are kaumātua that come to church."
Simmonds reaffirmed that although they may not be able to gather for worship, the clergy are still available to talk and listen to their flock.