Following hot on the heels of the Bible and Critical Theory seminar last weekend, the School of Theology launched into its 10-year anniversary celebrations at the University of Auckland with a symposium entitled, ‘Theology in the City: A Focus on Auckland’. The event was launched on Sunday 2nd September with a powhiri led by Henare Tate and Geremy Hema in the University’s Waipapa Marae.
The spirit of shared celebration fairly spilled out of the powhiri and into the rest of the celebrations, as friends and colleagues of the School had the chance to meet together and enjoy a plethora of events, which looked to the past, present, and future of Theology within both the University and the wider city of Auckland.
In her welcome speech, Head of School Professor Elaine Wainwright took us through the School’s history, remembering along the way all those who had helped to shape and direct it throughout its first ten years.
On both days of the symposium, participants were able to engage with a broad range of topics, including the history of ecumenism in New Zealand, the changing face of religion in Auckland, and the exciting challenges and potentialities of Pacific Theology.
Keynote speaker, journalist and economist Rod Oram, spoke eloquently about the ‘urban imperative’ of making space for Theology within the city.
The city came to meet the audience too, as architect and urban planner Tony Watkins engaged with Dr Neil Darragh on the role of Theology in shaping the cityscape and city architecture.
Creativity was also high on the sympsium’s agenda. Mary Kisler, senior curator at Auckland’s Art Gallery, captivated the audience with a discussion (and display) of sacred art.
Equally captivating was a celebration by past and present students of the School, which took the form of an awards ceremony that would have made the Oscars organizers jealous.
Congratulations to Elaine, by the way, for winning the ‘People’s Choice’ award!
The symposium ended with a round table panel discussion on the challenges and possibilities of ‘Doing Theology in Auckland’. Chaired by Massey University Professor Peter Lineham, the conversation covered an abundance of topics, which drew much debate and dialogue amongst panellists Dr Nick Thompson, Professor Manuka Henare, Reverend Feiloiga Taule ‘ale’ ausumai, Joe Ayers, and Auckland Mayor Len Brown.
To echo what so many participants of this symposium said throughout its two days, congratulations to the School of Theology at Auckland for reaching this milestone and here’s to a very fruitful and successful next ten years.