New Bishop of Te Waipounamu

Bishop Wallace following his ordainment. Photo courtesy of Te Rūnanga O Makaawhio.

In a service at Ōnuku Marae in January, Richard Rangi Wallace was ordained as the new Bishop of Te Waipounamu. This is the first time a person of Ngāi Tahu whakapapa has held the prestigious position.

Bishop Wallace says he was humbled by the 400 people who attended his ordainment ceremony.

“I am happy to be given the role and I am really excited to represent my people,” says Bishop Wallace.

“I am not only the first Ngāi Tahu  to hold the position, but also the first Royal New Zealand Air Force member to get the role which I think is something unique,” he says.

Bishop Wallace is well equipped to handle this role having held ministry oversight for Christchurch as Kaiwhakamana Ōtautahi and having previously been the Archdeacon of Te Tai Poutini. But he attributes a lot of his involvement with the Anglican Church to his marriage.

“When I met my wife her family gave me a number of tasks to prove myself. I remember one which included taking photos of an urupā. When I went to take the photos it was a terrible day but when the photos were developed it looked as though it was a lovely day. It was as though someone had put a hand on them,” he says.

Despite growing up in a Rātana Anglican home he says his involvement with his wife’s family really got him more involved.

Bishop Wallace on his knees as part of the ordainment ceremony.

Bishop Wallace said it was right that the ordainment be at Ōnuku because he was baptised at the church in Ōnuku and had an involvement in returning the Tumuki pou that stands outside the church.

“It is like I have done a full circle and returned here for a reason,” he says.

Bishop Wallace says that the first he thought of taking the role was when he was helping clean up after the service for the first Bishop of Te Waipounamu John Gray.

“Following the service I was helping up by cleaning the floors in the bathroom and I heard a voice say; ‘I suppose you will be next.’ I was a little stunned and then I saw Bishop Gray’s wife cleaning the next stool, he says.

From there Bishop Wallace was elected as the Bishop of Te Waipounamu by electors of the Anglican Maori Diocese.

As part of his ordainment Richard Wallace was presented a series of gifts to help him in his new role. These were a rochet and chimere, a stone, a ring, a pactoral cross, a crozier, a cape and mitre a communion set, a cross and a bible.