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No. 51 (June 1965)
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First Maori Chaplain In Penal Institutions

SOME MONTHS AGO the Rev. Manu Bennett left his position as vicar of St. Faith's Church, Ohinemutu, to become associate chaplain of the Waikeria Youth Centre, near Te Awamutu.

Waikeria is a detention centre for delinquent boys. Mr Bennett's chaplaincy duties cover both Maori and non-Maori offenders, in the same way as any other chaplain, but he has also a special commission to work with and advise on the treatment of the Maori boys there.

A Further Step Toward a Solution

In announcing this, the Minister of Justice and Maori Affairs, Mr Hanan, said, ‘It is my hope that this may be a further step toward making a major break-through in resolving the

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The Rev. Manu Bennett Ans Wes [ unclear: ] photo

personal conflicts that the young Maori has to face.’

Mr Bennett is the first Maori chaplain to join the team working under the National Council of Churches in the penal institutions of New Zealand.

Ordained as an Anglican minister in 1937, he is a son of the late Bishop Bennett. From 1944 to 1946 he was a chaplain with the Armed Forces. Later he spent a year studying at a University in Hawaii. He has served in a number of parishes, and in 1958 became vicar of St. Faith's Church, Ohinemutu.

One of Manu Bennett's former parishioners has sent ‘Te Ao Hou’ the following account of his work there.

The Restoration of
St. Faith's Church

When the Rev. Bennett came to Ohinemutu seven years ago, he found that historic St. Faith's Church was in a bad state of disrepair, and that a scheme to preserve it would have to be inaugurated immediately. The course that that plan has taken is a credit to one man's long-sightedness and patience. He tailored no ready-made system for success, but instead formulated a long-term project which was bound eventually to succeed and which in its course has enriched parish life.

Renovation Decided Upon

To renovate the church sounded simple enough, but it was soon discovered that nothing short of re-building was required. This would cost almost as much as a new building. As the desire of all hearts close to this church is to preserve what is there, it was decided to renovate the building, and at the same time to make additions and alterations to add to the church's functional value. To finance the scheme £10,000 would be needed.

The first task was to set the Youth Club concert party on a sound business footing. Although Manu, as he is known to all friends and parishioners, has never forgotten the Concert Party's place in Maori cultural life, he soon created a paying proposition which was to give the first financial impetus to his scheme. His efforts to improve the party's standard

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were equalled by his wife Kaa, who was herself an active member.

The next step was the renovation of Te Ao Marama, the very old church hall. This became the permanent home of the Young Women's Fellowship, formed under Mrs Bennett's influence.

The Youth Club is to be congratulated on their devotion to the work of the church. There has been little time for other social activities, and realising this, members have as much as possible endeavoured to make the club a social life within itself. There are weekly rehearsals and one regular weekly engagement. They call their evening ‘A Night in Maoriland’, and create a gala effect. The supper often includes fresh shellfish which they have travelled to the coast during the day to collect, crabs, lobsters Maori bread and sometimes puha.

The women have been busy too, with bazaars and catering for functions. The women of the parish have also had a considerable influence on the design of the renovated buildi [ unclear: ] .

Many New Features Planned

Among the features of the finished building will be a Lady Chapel facing the waters of Lake Rotorua. On these windows will be sandblasted an impression of Christ walking on the waters. There will be a glassed-in, soundproofed room where parents can retire with crying children. As the room will be equipped with speakers, they will not miss the service. It will also house television cameras when necessary.

It is sad that Manu will not be able to see the plan through to its final stage, but he has left with his parishioners an unflagging determination to see a restored St. Faith's standing, as proudly as it has ever done, beside Lake Rotorua.