The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is a province of the Anglican Communion serving New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and the Cook Islands. Since 1992, the church (formerly known as the "Church of the Province of New Zealand") has consisted of three tikanga or cultural streams: Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia. The church's constitution says that, among other things, it is required to "maintain the right of every person to choose any particular cultural expression of the faith". As a result, the church's General Synod has agreed upon the development of the three-person primacy based on this three tikanga system. The church has three primates (leaders), each representing a tikanga, who share authority.
The Anglican Church is an apostolic church, tracing its bishops back to the apostles via holy orders. The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and its companion, A New Zealand Prayer Book (ANZPB), containing traditional rites, blessings and liturgies, are central to the church's worship. Since the 1960s and 1970s, the church has pursued a decidedly more liberal course and is LGBT-affirming.
The church has decided that three bishops shall share the position and style of archbishop, each representing one of the three tikanga. The three archbishops sharing the title of Archbishop of New Zealand are: one vacancy for the head of Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa which oversees churches for the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand (following the death of Brown Turei, Bishop of Aotearoa); Philip Richardson, Bishop of Taranaki, representing the dioceses in New Zealand; and Winston Halapua, Bishop of Polynesia.
Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa, one of three tikanga, oversees churches for the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand. Aotearoa is made up of five hui amorangi or regional bishoprics:Manawa O Te Wheke (north island central region)
Tairāwhiti (East Coast Region)
Tai Tokerau (Northern Region)
Upoko O Te Ika (Wellington/Taranaki)
Waipounamu (South Island)
The tikanga of New Zealand, which serves non-Maori in New Zealand, is made up of seven dioceses:Auckland
Waikato and Taranaki
Formerly, the dioceses in New Zealand were led by a "senior bishop" elected from among the diocesan bishops. However, as the church moves towards a three-person primacy, the leader of the dioceses in New Zealand is elected as co-presiding bishop and styled as an archbishop. The current Pākehā co-presiding bishop is Philip Richardson, Bishop of Taranaki.
The Diocese of Polynesia, or the Tikanga Pasefika, headed by Bishop Winston Halapua, serves Anglicans in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and the Cook Islands. The diocese's first bishop was consecrated in 1908. The diocese's cathedral is Holy Trinity Cathedral in Suva, Fiji. As the province moves towards a three-person primacy, the Bishop of Polynesia is automatically a co-presiding bishop and styled as an archbishop. The Bishop of Polynesia is currently supported by three suffragan bishops: Bishop Winston Halapua, now the new Bishop of Polynesia, formerly lead the ministry to Polynesians in New Zealand, Bishop Apimeleki Nadoki Qiliho serves Vanua Levu and Taveuni, and Bishop Gabriel Sharma serves Viti Levu West as well as the archdeacons of Suva and Ovalau, Samoa and American Samoa, and Tonga.
Residential theological training is carried out primarily at St John's College, Auckland, which is also organised according to the three tikanga approach.
Theological training was formerly carried out by College House in Christchurch, but over time College House has become secularised as a hall of residence of the nearby University of Canterbury. While it still falls under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch and has the extensive theological holdings in its library, it no longer trains ordinands.
The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has no official policy on the issue and is one of the many churches of the Anglican Communion considering same-sex unions. In 2011, the Diocese of Auckland voted in favour of ordaining partnered gay and lesbian priests. Congregations in the Auckland Diocese may offer a 'relationship blessing' for two partners. The Dunedin Diocese also provides a blessing for the relationship of "two people" irrespective of gender. In the diocese "Blessings of same-sex relationships are offered in line with Diocesan Policy and with the bishop's permission." The Dunedin Diocese also ordained an openly gay and partnered deacon Subsequently, the same deacon was ordained a priest.
In 2012, some bishops and four dioceses supported a rite of blessing for same-sex unions. Motion 30, adopted by the 62nd General Synod on 14 May 2014, designated a working task group with the purpose of creating a "process and structure" that would allow the blessing of same-sex unions, while also upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. This proposal drew the opposition of the most conservative factions of the province's clergy and laity, with a submission presented by two clergymen and a layman stating that the Church's Constitution stated that "No doctrines which are repugnant to the Doctrines and Sacraments of Christ as held and maintained by this Church shall be advocated or inculcated by any person acknowledging the authority of General Synod."
In 2016, the committee responsible for developing the rites of blessing released its proposed liturgies for same-sex couples to be discussed by the General Synod. The General Synod 2016 voted to 'receive' the report on blessings but left the option to "[lie] on the table" and the issue will be reviewed again in 2018. "However, Synod did pass a constitutional change allowing bishops the right to authorize (sic) a service for use in his or her diocese".