The establishment of Christianity in New Zealand involved a lot of travelling about the country, much of it on foot. Bishop Selwyn was a renowned walker. The Kiwi Camino pilgrimages are aimed at getting out there again and “engaging” with the country again.
Past issues like the nineteenth century land wars still need to be thought about. The changing demographic face of New Zealand has also to be thought about and what might be the place of the Christian Church in it. At present St George’s Anglican Church is making an active effort to have an outward focus with creative pathways into the community. These pilgrimages are a direct response to that challenge.
This year we are planning four autumn and two winter pilgrimages. All have an historical and spiritual focus of varying degree. However, in keeping with the concept of pilgrimage it is up to the individual to decide his/her purpose for the walk.
The walks are of different lengths and degree of difficulty. Options exist for doing just part of them or even joining in by motor vehicle. The main thing is to participate, enjoy the company of others and maybe come to some further realisations about life along the way.
In the way the pilgrimages are currently being planned you will be part of an organised group on a specific day. We hope that in future other groups and individuals may like to use our planning as a template for their own pilgrimages. Walking notes about the routes will be provided for those who sign up for the walks and these will later be available on the website.
The destination of this pilgrimage is The Cedar Centre in Tramway Road Beach Haven. This is the Anglican Church for the district. At approximately 15 kilometres this is one of the shorter walks, but there is more hill walking in it than some of the others. However, we are not pushed for time so it can be done at an easy pace.
We will leave St George’s at 8.00am taking a bus into town to connect with the ferry for Birkenhead Point. From here we will walk around the coast to Verrans Corner then down through Birkdale to the Cedar Centre. Essentially, we will be following the path of the old chapel at the centre which has been shifted three times in its life since 1885 and which continues to serve its function as a church in the community.
The intention is to have a mid-morning swim at Kendall’s Bay. Lunch will be hosted at Verrans Corner by two parishioners from St George’s. We will return by ferry from Beach Haven at 5.00pm aiming to be back at St George’s Epsom by approximately 6.15pm.
The destination is the Ihumatao Fossil Forest on the shore of the Manukau Harbour. This walk is approximately 20 kilometres and of an almost flat gradient. For most of the way it follows the shoreline of the Manukau Harbour.
On this walk Auckland’s violent volcanic origins are still strongly visible. This is a landscape of geological upheaval and serves as a strong reminder of the huge forces that underpin this city. The conflict in the bowels of the earth is by no means over and mankind can look very insignificant vis a vis a volcanic eruption.
This is also a landscape of political conflict. Ihumatao was the birthplace of the Maori King Movement. It was also prominent in the New Zealand Land Wars and their aftermath much of which is still to be reconciled and re-evaluated. Ihumatao is also one of the oldest places of continuous Maori settlement in New Zealand. It is also one of the earlier places of Christian endeavour and evangelistic success. The past and present are strongly intertwined especially at such places as St James Church.
The pilgrimage leaves St George’s at 8.00am and heads straight down Manukau Road for the Onehunga Bay foreshore. We use the new harbour walkway and head for coffee at Mangere Bridge. From here the coastline is followed with possibly an early lunch break in Ambury Farm and then on around to the historic Ihumatao stonefields. These are worth a close look. Next we get on to the beach itself and proceed to the site of the Wesleyan Mission Station and then on to the fossil forest. It is important to note here that this walk has to be arranged around the tides.
It is anticipated that the walk will be finished by 4.00pm. Transport will be arranged to take you back to St George’s.