The young couple Christopher and Sharlene Huriwai are bringing their amazing gifts back to Tairawhiti.
God certainly has called Chris and Sharlene. Over the past several years they have moved several times to follow their calling to ministry, from Te Waipounamu where they were both raised, to Auckland for study at St Johns College, to Te Tairawhiti where they worked in Turanga and most recently to Tauranga where they both have whanau roots.
Now they have a new calling: their pepi.
They are expecting a baby in May, and are pretty nervous as new parents. Although they both have whakapapa roots in Tauranga, they have a strong support network in Turanga, including the possibility of Sharlene’s parents moving there next year. They are also looking at long-term stability for themselves as a whanau and housing is just more affordable in Turanga than the rapidly growing Tauranga.
So the call of their new whanau life is pulling Chris and Sharlene back to the place they love as home.
Chris and Sharlene bring back some amazing gifts. Between them they do everything from taonga puoro to waka ama, from baking to readathons.
They have loved Tauranga. Sharlene worked at Te Wananga o Aotearoa in the library, while Chris has spent the past year as Missioner in the Tauranga-Te Puke rohe. He was tasked by Pihopa Ngarahu to build up the ministry in the rohe, both in terms of the way it functions but more importantly the people.
Chris has facilitated the return of a Māori Church (All Saints) and the re-dedication of another (Motiti), and the Mission District now has 3 Churches across 3 towns that hold services every Sunday where before there were no "every Sunday churches" in the district at all.
More importantly he has helped to double the size of the ministry team, equipping the team for the work of the saints through his ministry as mentor and teacher. The ordination and commissioning of a large group a few months ago was a real highlight for Chris who said ‘enabling others to follow their calling was a true joy.’
Pihopa Ngarahu is sad to see Chris and Sharlene go but wishes them well and notes that Chris leaves the rohe in a good space, ready for the next Missioner.
And now Chris and Sharlene follow their calling. Although they return to Tairawhiti saddened by the loss of Archbishop Brown, they are also excited at being able to serve in some capacity the new Pihopa o Te Tairawhiti and the call to Kawea Te Rongopai!