Bishop Wallace was baptised at birth in the church at Ōnuku by a Rātana priest, and was raised at Little River by his grandparents. “The thing I remember back then is going to sleep at night listening to karakia, and waking up in the morning listening to karakia, all in the reo,” he says.
The role of Bishop of Te Waipounamu was established in 1996, and Bishop Wallace is the second to be elected, and the first of Ngāi Tahu descent. He was nominated by Canon Bella Morrell of Dunedin, and was elected in September 2016 by members of the Anglican Māori Diocese, before being ordained at Ōnuku in January 2017. For the Bishop, being ordained at the same place he was baptised was particularly special. “It is like I have done a full circle and returned for a reason,” he says as he begins to tell his story.