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The Holy Spirit in Aotearoa


Rev Dr Lyndon Drake is Kaiwhakamana Amorangi (ministry enabler) at Te Pīhopatanga o Te Tai Tokerau. Lyndon is married to Miriam, and they have three boys. Lyndon was an interest-rate trader in London before retraining for ordained ministry, has degrees from the universities of Auckland, York, and Oxford, and is currently studying for a DPhil in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at the University of Oxford.

Ka nuku nuku, ka neke neke

Ka nuku nuku, ka neke neke

Titiro ki nga wai o Tokerau, e hora nei, me he pipiwharauroa ki tua Takoto te pai, takoto te pai Whiti, whiti, tata, tata Whiti, whiti, tata, tata He ra taua ki tua Takoto te pai, takoto te pai

These words have become famous. They come from a well-known Nga Puhi haka. They have a special place in the history of the Gospel in this land. Samuel Marsden preached the first sermon on Christmas Day in 1814 at Oihi Bay, answering the invitation of Ruatara, a chief from the north. In response to Marsden's message, thousands of Ruatara's men performed this haka.

Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu suggests that reference to the pipiwharauroa (shining cuckoo) in this context showed an awareness that the good news of Jesus was an outside concept — a cuckoo's egg being laid. But the response is not a rejection of this new thing, but a celebration of it. The haka is called "Te Hari a Nga Puhi" ("The Joy of Nga Puhi") and was used to rejoice.

In this, we can see the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who were listening to a message they could not yet completely understand. The Spirit prompted first Te Pahi (another chief) and then Ruatara to invite Marsden. The Spirit also prompted those who heard the message to respond with open hearts and joy.

The Never Ending Work of the Holy Spirit

It is true, and important to remember and re-tell, that even in Marsden himself, and more so in many of the subsequent painful events of church activity, the Spirit's work was damaged or opposed by human sin. But the Spirit cannot be defeated, and God's works of aroha noa (grace) have continued to provoke a Spirit-filled response of joy among people ever since that day.

A hallmark of the Spirit's work was the embracing by early English CMS missionaries of Henry Venn's vision of indigenous leadership. The English missionaries empowered new Maori Christians to proclaim the good news of Jesus throughout the land, and to in due course lead ministry. This vision was stifled as the "Settler Church" took over, but the Spirit-inspired ambition of a Maori-led church for the sake of all was never entirely lost. In a sense, it went underground and became largely invisible for many years.

Another aspect of the Spirit's ongoing work was the formation of NZCMS, a work that, from its inception, included both a worldwide ambition and the support of indigenous mission work within Aotearoa. The necessity of ongoing indigenous mission has not always been understood by the Church, but is a true sign of the Spirit's presence in the church in this land.

A New Initiative

I have had joy myself in seeing the Spirit at work in a new way during the last couple of years. I returned to my own land in 2017 to take up ministry within the Maori Anglican church in Te Tai Tokerau (Auckland and Northland). My hope is to re-tell the broken story of the church. In particular, I want to see Maori evangelists set free to tell the good news of Jesus, and to have the great joy of seeing joyful responses to that message from Maori and tauiwi (those from overseas) alike.

As I looked for ways to enable that vision, now-bishop Steve Maina gave me the opportunity in March 2018 to present an idea of partnership between NZCMS and te Takiwa o Manukau (the group of Maori Anglican churches of south Auckland which I oversee). The idea we brought was to identify and fund two Maori evangelists to work among Maori in Manukau, where more Maori live than in any place in the world. I had the joy of seeing the enthusiastic response of the NZCMS board and wider community. I am quite certain that NZCMS' response was prompted by the Spirit.

As this work has been established, I have had every opportunity to see the power of the Spirit, not only in the ministry of Te Hauoterangi Karaka who is our first evangelist, but in the spirit of partnership and cooperation that has characterised the whole endeavour.

The Holy Spirit’s Invitation

My conviction, which I believe comes from the Spirit, is that God has not abandoned the story that He began to write in this land in 1814. I am convinced that God still loves this land, and still loves the way He began to form the church here. I am convinced that God still loves Maori and longs to see us saved, and that He loves all those tauiwi who have found a home here and longs for them to come into His Kingdom too. I am convinced that God still sends His Holy Spirit to accompany His word as it is preached, and will pour out his love and mercy on the lost in this land.

My conviction is that we have to give attention to the way the story started among Maori, and to re-tell that story in our own day, repenting of the sins of the past not only in word but in actions which demonstrate our openness to God's Spirit. I believe that this means we must give ourselves to the renewal of proclamation of the Gospel among Maori, trusting that this will lead to the conversion of Maori and tauiwi alike. I believe that the initiative NZCMS has taken to enable a new expression of Maori-led mission in Manukau is a sign of the Spirit's presence and power among us.

“Ka pēnā anō tāku kupu e puta ana i tōku māngai;
e kore e hoki kau mai ki ahau;
engari ka meatia tāku i pai ai,
ka taea hoki tāku i unga atu ai.
Tā te mea ka haere atu koutou me te hari anō,
ka ārahina i runga i te rangimārie.”



“It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
You will live in joy and peace.”

Isaiah 55.11–12

4 thoughts on “The Holy Spirit in Aotearoa

  1. Really encouraging to read this Lyndon. We have found Gerald Arbuckle’s work on refounding very helpful -essentially he says to go back to the founding story and remagine it for our day.
    Kia kaha!

  2. Thanks Lyndon. this is very true. I have just finished working as a social worker fort the Salvation Army. I often ask the Maori people we assist if they would like a karakia. Overall the response is an amazing softness and openness to the Holy Spirit. A few times God has even touched these dear folk in ways I have not asked for, nor would have faith for. One example was to see depression lift off a teenager after a brief prayer. At the time she saw a light pushing out the darkness as we prayed. Another time a blessing was prayed for and the 35 year old lady seemed to remain in prayer for quite some time after I had finished praying. Then her cell phone ringing snapped her out of it. She excitedly said to me, “Wow what was that? My hangover has completely gone!” I told her this was Jesus calling her back home. Events like these tell me Jesus is out seeking the Maori people, showing he is real and calling them home. Grant Ashton

  3. As a NZ born Christian I read with utter delight the story of ground – up Gospel sharing and growth in Manukau and throughout NZ. How long have I waited to witness springs of new life amongst Maori people and pakeha.
    I praise God and pray.

  4. In 2005 In my quiet time with the Lord he said to me go and photocopy a map of Nz, I did and then he said I was to go into the bathroom and run it under the tap, as I did the words came, that the Holy Spirit was going to flow down through Nz as the water was flowing down through the tap, that this spiritual uprising would come through the Maori people from cape Reinga down. At the time I was living and working in the taupiri church as a deacon. A few weeks later he repeated this in a vision and said I was to move to whangarei and that I would be working with an old friend. I moved and was priested in whangarei, we were given the church in Kamo and I began working under Arthur Hokianga. Sadly I have had to retire due to health however I still l hold onto that vision and was excited to read this story about Maori evangelists especially as the early evangelists were also Maori. Bless you Lyndon and may many see God working powerfully through you.

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