Episcopalian bishop raises Maori flag in USA


A  flag carried by 1998  Hikoi of Hope marchers now hangs in the office of the Episcopalian bishop of the diocese of North Dakota in the USA.

Bishop Michael Smith holds it up as a symbol of progress made by Maori and as an emblem of the partnerships formed between Anglicans in Aotearoa and Episcopalians in the United States.

It also symbolises the church’s responsibility to advocate for social justice.

Smith was given the flag 2003 when he was a member of an American delegation attending a meeting of the Anglican Indigenous Network in Rotorua.

Members of each delegation were invited to bring flags that represented their native cultures.

Smith, a member of the Potawatomi tribe, is originally from Oklahoma, and he chose to bring that state’s flag which features the battle shield of an Osage warrior and other Native American icons.

Bishop Whakahuihui Vercoe, who hosted meeting asked if he could have it and Smith gladly agreed. Then Vercoe gave Smith his Maori Anglican one.

When he received the flag Smith was a priest serving on an American Indian reservation in Minnesota. He was honoured to receive the flag but only later learned its full significance

In 2008, after Smith had become bishop of the Diocese of North Dakota, he met the Maori bishops at that year’s Lambeth Conference.

They explained the flag’s significance but said it would be improper to return such a gift.

They suggested, however, that it may be proper to arrange for the flag to be returned to the Maori after Smith’s and Vercoe’s deaths, which is what Smith will do. (Vercoe died in 2007.)


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: , , ,