Rev Dr Richard Waugh attends Meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

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Pictured clockwise: Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, Housing Minister Megan Woods. Jason Ravens (DPMC), Archbishop Philip Richardson, Charles Waldegrave, Brook Turner, Pastor Charles Hewett, Rev Dr Richard Waugh, Darren Ward, Andrew Crisp (Chief Executive, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development), Commissioner Mark Campbell, Ian Hutson, Lisa Beech, Cardinal John Dew, David Hanna , Rev Etuini Talakai, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni.

National Superintendent Emeritus Rev Dr Richard Waugh brought his season of the leadership of the National Church Leaders Aotearoa New Zealand to a close this week with a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Leaders of some of the country’s major Christian faiths met with the Prime Minister in Auckland on 12 March to discuss housing, poverty and the Covid-19 pandemic response including vaccination. At the meeting were Anglican Archbishop Philip Richardson, Baptist Pastor Charles Hewett, Catholic Archbishop Cardinal John Dew, Methodist Church Vice-president Rev Etuini Talakai, Salvation Army Commissioner Mark Campbell and the Rev Dr Richard Waugh of the National Church Leaders Aotearoa New Zealand. Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Housing Minister Megan Woods also attended, along with departmental officials.

The meeting agenda included Covid-19 vaccinations, housing, and welfare and income issues. Yearly meetings between Christian leaders and the prime minister were established following the 1998 Anglican Church-led Hikoi of Hope, when tens of thousands of church members marched to Parliament asking for action on social and economic matters. The meetings have been held annually since with few exceptions – the 2020 meeting was cancelled because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Following Friday’s meeting with the Prime Minister, Richard chaired his final meeting as Chair of National Church Leaders of Aotearoa-New Zealand (NCLANZ) in Wellington on Tuesday 16 March. National leaders from across the denomination spectrum expressed their appreciation for Richard’s leadership and support as chair since 2012 and prior to that as secretary to NCLANZ. A lunch was held in his honour. Richard took the opportunity to express his commitment to “the catholic spirit” which was so integral to the ministry of John Wesley. “We need to be more like John Wesley and say, “If your heart is as true to mine as mine is to yours, give me your hand.” (2 Kings 10:15)”

Pastor Brent Leibezeit (Christian Churches New Zealand) was elected as the new chair with a strong mandate and Rev Brett Jones was unanimously elected to the role of secretary.