A New Zealand Prayer Book / He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa


‘This Prayer Book is a gift from the Church to itself’ is how A New Zealand Prayer Book / He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa has been described, firstly by the members of the Prayer Book Commission and many since who have celebrated this taonga. It is shaped by our own people and belongs in the story and tikanga of the Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and is deeply treasured by others around the world.

Since the first edition, which was published in 1989, there have been reprints and new editions (1997, 2002, 2005, 2020) to better reflect our church’s three tikanga relationships (Tikanga Māori, Tikanga Pākehā and Tikanga Pasefika) but there is still more work to be done. As with any liturgy, it is a work in progress. Liturgy reflects the People of God in a particular place at a specific time. It gives expression to who we are and how we see God in our presence. In summary, liturgy reveals who we worship, affirms our identity, and reflects our mission. It is, thus, important that our liturgical expressions continue to evolve and be renewed.

This prayer book reflects a context that has recognised the importance of renewing liturgy over many years. Such a book did not happen overnight, but rather took over twenty years of experimentation. The first experimental New Zealand Liturgy was issued in 1966, and a New Zealand Liturgy 1970 published an edition in both Māori and English in 1977. Booklets were also produced including Morning and Evening Prayer, canticles and Psalms for Worship, Christian Initiation, and Marriage Services, Funeral Services, The New Zealand Calendar, and Services for use with the Sick and Pastoral Occasions.

The Prayer Book Commission, which included over fifty members over its life, was motivated by the belief that ‘the purpose of liturgy is not to protect particular linguistic forms. It is to enable a community to pray’. Such prayer is enhanced by reflecting the context. The Commission noted that the fabric of our society had changed and so the images and language that we use in worship needed to change.

The changes included the following:

Ecology and Environmentalism

The images used throughout the prayer book offer gratitude for the many gifts to us in creation and the importance of sharing with justice the resources of the earth. The protest against nuclear testing in the Pacific and then the passing of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone in 1987 influenced the Prayer Book Commission to reflect the call to protect and nurture our earth/papatūānuku. Since then, our communities have raised awareness of the call to recycle, repurpose, purchase locally with less fuel consumption so our environment heals and flourishes. Our relationship with our environment and restoring the mauri of all creation is enhanced through our prayers and worship life together.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty of Waitangi

Aotearoa New Zealand recognises the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi by affirming partnership and working together to honour relationships. The first edition of the prayer book did not adequately reflect this partnership even though some Te Reo was included - He Tikanga Anō, for example. The Prayer Book Commission did not represent the Three Tikanga church, as the constitution did not exist then, but it began the journey. There is still more work to do to better reflect Tikanga Māori’s liturgical contributions and identity within these pages.

Three Tikanga Church (Tikanga Māori, Tikanga Pākehā and Tikanga Pasefika)

In 1992 a revised constitution for the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia was adopted. This involved recognising equal partnership between all three partners in the decision-making processes across the church, and allowing each partner to exercise mission and ministry according to their tikanga/way. The Common Life Liturgical Commission was formed which meant all three partners were equally represented. The 2020 edition of the prayer book added approved Te Reo translations of sentences, collects and readings, and new Fijian, Tongan, Samoan, and Hindi approved translations of some of the Eucharistic Liturgies.

Equal partnership between women and men

Women have been ordained in this province since 1977, and our story includes a continuing dialogue on equal partnership of women and men within our church. The language for humanity is inclusive in this book. Theological language includes feminine or neutral images as well as masculine, and the intention of the Prayer Book Commission was to ‘affirm the place of each gender under God’. In this area of gender justice there is always more work to be done and this book highlights the first steps in an ongoing journey.

Centrality of lay ministry

The formation of the Anglican Church in these islands by Bishop George Augustus Selwyn since the early 1840s emphasised the importance of the ministry of all the baptised. This book gives more freedom for all to be involved in leading worship in comparison to earlier prayer books that gave preference to clergy-led services. The prayer language and daily prayers place an emphasis on all people forming a prayerful life.

These priorities remain central to our theology and community life across our islands, and thus continue to be hugely significant to our liturgical formation. This reflects our context in which we worship God and honour one another. Our theology continues to evolve and develop as we bring new insights and experiences into our relationships, which include the above changes that are central and specific to our context. Who God is, how Christ acts, and where the Holy Spirit moves within our world is dynamic and exciting.

This book provides the words. The words provide inspiration and the common thread to one another across our islands. As Anglicans we are a prayer book people, and this prayer book is part of the evolving diverse expression of who we are and how Christ works through us to our world and all of creation. But liturgy is not solely about what we say, but how we gather and how we do community. Worship is a creative art which requires preparation and practice. Liturgy needs to reflect our context, which includes our environment and our people. So, these words are just the beginning in offering worship. The work of developing liturgy is the work of the local people.

So let us affirm this taonga, which belongs to us, and find Christ in these words and in our actions.

Lift your hearts to heaven
where Christ in glory reigns.

Kia whakapaingia te Atua!

Welcome to you as you come to worship.

Worship is the highest activity of the human spirit. In this book you will find the means to express all the hopes and vision, common purpose and emerging love of which we are capable.

In each service, in a variety of ways, we experience God and respond to the eternal, following different threads and strands of spirituality.

As Christians, whether we are engaged in the Church's daily round of prayer and thanksgiving or being touched by God at the turning points of our lives; we worship in response to the love of God and out of love for one another. In worship we celebrate and make real that love and it strengthens our commitment to Christ, each other, and those who stand in need. It is only as we care for each other and care for our neighbours that our regular worship makes sense. Love of God becomes love of neighbour.

Worship is a skill to be learned and a creative art to practise. Whether you use this book as a leader or participant you will need to make your own contribution to the worship in which you are involved. Suggestions are given on how the service should be conducted but it is left open to each congregation to decide whether to sit, stand or kneel at the various parts of the service

Where the service requires that action or words belong to a deacon, priest or bishop, this is stated. The term minister, however, denotes any authorised person who is leading the worship at that point.

In this book BOLD type indicates the words to be used for the people’s part.