Parliament to change prayer, but MPs miss the point

Assistant Speaker Trevor Mallard is objecting to the proposed new prayer for Parliament, saying while it removes religious elements from the English version, it deceptively puts them into the Maori version.

It also appeared to confer rights of Parliament’s sovereignty on the local iwi, Te Atiawa.

Speaker David Carter appears to have consulted only MPs and perhaps a handful of others about changing the prayer. He won’t discuss it before making the decision next week.

The prayer is said daily at the start of Parliament and has long been criticised because it is non-secular and has references to Christianity.

Mr Mallard said he was not criticising Mr Carter, but added: “The whole thing smells of consulting one or two people.”

All the religion in the new prayer would be in the Maori part so the vast majority of listeners would not be aware they are listening to a prayer.

“In a way it is almost dishonest.”

Mr Carter has said he won’t entertain changes to the proposal. It would be the old one or the new one.

Mr Mallard: “On that basis we’ll keep it as is, thank you very much.”

The problem isn’t whether there is a prayer by stealth, the problem is the apparent secularisation of parliament.   This is to pander to those that are “uncomfortable” or “offended” by a Christian prayer.

And this, my dear reader, is how it starts.  This is the first step.

The future:  No more Christmas celebration at the mall.  Instead:  Holiday celebrations.

Removal of any Christian symbology, such as crosses, nativity scenes, and so on.

The next step?  After removing most of the traditions of our own culture, we need to “even it up to make it fair” by also allowing other cultures to have their traditions integrated into our every day life.

The rot is slow.  The rot is insidious.

And it happens in government and councils.   All you have to do is study how it all started in Europe 3 or 4 decades ago.



– Audrey Young, NZ Herald


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  • Alright

    I pray we give those behind this the Easter treatment.

  • mike

    What about separation of church and state? How many kiwis actually believe in the Christian God, do those of us who don’t have to be subjected to Christian prayers and teachings? And please do not trot or the argument about morals or ethics coming fron the Bible because that’s silly.

    One could almost day that Christian dogma forced upon others is just as bad as what the Muslims want to do… Only difference is you won’t behead me for speaking poorly about your God.

  • metalnwood

    Hopefully everyone is too busy to have the god debate today but I will say that I would rather have references removed than have many other references added to appease other religions.

  • RightofSingapore

    Well if some are offended by this tradition, they can simply leave if it bothers them so much.

  • Aucky

    I’m not a practising Christian but it’s Christian ethics that form the basis of OUR culture and OUR traditions. It’s what we are. We are already seeing the erosion of OUR traditions with the replacement of Christmas with the Festive Season and the removal of Christian symbolism. It’s pervasive and it’s like rust – it never sleeps.

    Leave it as it is.

    • Alright

      Dead right. I’m an atheist but I totally agree with you Aucky.

    • Kevin

      Why should I pay for some nativity scene on public land? If churches want to put up such things on their own land I have no objection. Just don’t use taxpayer’s money to do it.

      • Aucky

        You’re being a bit of a grinch Kevin but that’s by the bye. This isn’t a religious debate – it’s about the retention of our values and our traditions.

    • mike

      Really? Almost all the public holidays, ethics and culture were created and spread by the Romans.

  • Cadae

    Keep religion out of government. Feel free to have it anyplace else. Government is about force – it is no place for religion. People should be free to practice their religion provided it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others. Enforcing its use as part of government protocol is both unnecessary, unethical and invites religious enforcement.

    • Alright

      Cadae, what Aucky is saying (below) is that believe in it or not Christianity has actually provided the basis of democratic government and the secular state. I am not a “believer” but if Christianity gives some people succor and a moral compass well and good.

      • metalnwood

        Did it? Democracy had formed a long time before christianity, greece for example.

        I am unsure on my history how christianity has a hand in democratic government?

        • Alright

          Ok Cadae and Metalnwood, now I’m almost (but not totally) out of my depth – having gone where “Angels fear to tread.”

          But before becoming a complete surrender monkey I was simply opining that Christianity – for all its faults – has at least provided an important component underpinning “civil society.”

          • sin-ic

            What about the term “Judeo-Christian” culture. Let’s be honest, Christian culture does descend (go down) from the earlier Jewish culture. Jesus was a nice Jewish kid who had other ideas.

          • Alright

            “Jesus was a nice Jewish kid……”

            No he wasn’t, he was just a “very naughty boy.”

          • sin-ic

            That too.

        • mike

          5th century BC was the birth of Democracy in Greece… so maybe we should be worshiping Zeus and his pantheon not the monotheistic God of Christianity.

      • Cadae

        The state is somewhat secular despite Christianity, not because of Christianity.
        Culture, religion and other irrational beliefs and practices are best kept well away from the force that government embodies. If individuals like particular cultural practices then they should be free to perform them, but with their own money and time. Do not invoke the power and money of the state to thrust them onto the unwilling and disinterested.
        The simple rule is – minimise the state, don’t maximise it. Feel free to create your own flag worshiping or god worshiping groups that mumble incantations to whatever god they like, but don’t waste my precious tax money on them.

  • Ilovelife

    Christianity is not just a “religion” it is a culture and whether lapsed Christians or non-believers like it or not it is a deeply rooted part of western culture. Look at Judaism…is that simply a religion? No, it is deeply cultural, as is Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and other religions. I am sick and tired of western culture being denigrated and subjugated to and by others. Why should we feel ashamed of our culture while elevating others. Unfortunately Europeans from a Christian tradition are the most vocal proponents of suppression.

  • john Doe

    The Islamic State stop this sort of insidious rot with a good ole beheading or public execution. That seems to stop christian rot in its tracks in their part of the world. I guess because we have developed somewhat we accept diversity, but why we have to change traditions.

  • Iera

    Either keep the Prayer as it is or remove it completely.
    Don’t replace it with some weasel worded Maori alternative.
    The choice should be: Christianity, or nothing.

  • david

    I’m all for celebrating our traditional myths and legends. You don’t have to believe them. I was in Sarawak this time last year (majority Muslim) and you couldn’t get away from the Christmas carols, Christmas trees and decorations. Same in Bangkok. I don’t see a need for the tradition of praying to mythical gods to commence Parliament but I don’t see it does any harm either. But ‘traditions’ do change. We used to have Guy Fawkes, now he is displaced by Halloween.

    • conwaycaptain

      Go to Japan at Christmas. It is everywhere.

      • sin-ic

        Celebrations to the great God … sell, sell, sell, tell us to go out and BUY!

  • metalnwood

    Interesting reading some of the comments. The first comment suggested we crucify people opposed to it. Interesting as I just read a muslim would behead them but a christian…

    Things change, you have to remember that it’s not so much other religions that don’t like it. It NZ’ers. I have seen people say don’t come to NZ if you don’t like our religion. What religion? You don’t speak for me. Half of New Zealand is not religious. I am as happy to have a Buddhist or a Sikh here as I am a Christian. I don’t believe in any of them so why would I stick up for one over the other?

    Our roots may have some bearing in Christianity but these days the swing is clearly the other way.

  • Richard

    This is the modus operandi of the age old establishment that would see the very fabric of our great nation and the wider empire unpicked from the inside out.

  • Tom McKechnie

    This prayer is part of NZ Parliamentary tradition. If any MP is uncomfortable with or has objections to the references to Christianity, they have no business being in parliament.
    ” If it ain’t broke ………….”

  • Cadwallader

    Nothing will happen by way of objection. It’ll just be like when Hone refused to swear an Oath of Allegiance (other than to his mother) at the start of Parliament. The removal of Judeo/Christian traditions may sadly create a vacuum for Islamos to pervade our society.

  • LesleyNZ

    Yes – leave it as it is. If John Key can have a referendum to change the flag he can add another line for a prayer referendum. The present politicians have no right to change NZ’s tradition without consulting us – the people. Is John Carter the MP who has the been driving to change the prayer?

    • Richard

      Like most changes to the fabric of our Nation, this has been discussed for a number of years now.

      First it is mentioned and rebuffed, then mentioned and scoffed at, then mentioned and discussed, then mentioned and implemented.

    • David Carter the speaker not John Carter the retired MP for Northland.

      • LesleyNZ

        That’s right – thanks.

  • Richard

    Politicians do a rubbish enough job now without doing away with the request for guidance from the big man upstairs.

    God help us.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    It is sad that so many “traditions” are being sacrificed simply because of minority pressure and misguided response.
    Changing the traditional Parliamentary prayer is the latest that seems will get a make over. Like so many other things it is to be cannibalised with some ethnic script of no relevance or significance and only to sate some so called cultural need.
    Where does this rot end?

    • metalnwood

      Christians are not the majority, so taking your view it would be fair if it was gone, representing the majority, not removed on the request of the minority?

      • James Growley

        According to the latest stats, Christians or those professing to be Christians seem to have the edge………………

        Roman Catholic (11.07%)
        Anglican (10.33%)
        Presbyterian (7.44%)
        Other Christianity (14.63%)
        Hinduism (2.02%)
        Buddhism (1.31%)
        Islam (1.04%)
        Other religions (1.34%)
        Undeclared (12.27%)
        No religion (38.55%)

        • metalnwood

          Not quite the latest stats, the 2013 census has it just under 50%

          • Ilovelife

            I think the point James was making is that it is the major religion. Other religions are tiny minorities. Those stating “no religion” are significant and “undeclared” seems to suggest couldn’t care either way

          • metalnwood

            My point was that it doesn’t matter if it was the major religion, for the most part you are going to find argument against those with no religion, not smaller religions.
            If there were was only 10% of the population that was religious and christians dominated with 9.99% it would still be the same, the argument is often not with the other religions.

          • James Growley

            You win! To get back the will to live, my three WHWT’s and I will celebrate the Celtic festival of Alban Arthuan this year.

          • James Growley

            Yes but taken proportionately, Christians are in the majority compared to any of the other religions. Being Scots, I sway towards the Celts…….

          • metalnwood

            Yes, taken against other religions it is the majority but that hardly matters when it’s mostly non religious people that would argue about it.

      • Aucky

        The Nats aren’t the majority in government either m&w. So taking your view it would be fair if they were gone?

        • metalnwood

          Not sure I get your point as it is not the same. What do you mean they are not the majority? They got the most votes of those who voted. Now, had everyone voted then perhaps they might not have got the majority and you would be correct.

          That is different from the census data where all but a very, very few participated. It’s funny how I hear a lot of christians say they shouldn’t have to put up with other religious views in this country but still happy to force views on other people. In a nutshell, thats what wanting to keep it is all about. Why? I don’t understand? Are you less christian if others who are not don’t follow you? Strange to me.

          Do you really care that people who don’t want to pledge to JC are made to? How does that maintain your faith?

          As a christian, why were you up voting the now deleted post that prayed for the crucifixion of those that wanted to remove the prayer. Good work there.

  • Sagacious Blonde

    Some years ago, when I was on the Committee of the Devonport Business Association, we wanted to have a Mid-Winter Christmas week. One member objected to the term Christmas and it ended up being a Mid-Winter Solstice promotion.My lone objection that the planned agenda was considerably more offensive to a far greater number of people was over-ridden.
    Guess what the opening event was – the local witches coven dancing at dawn on the summit of Mt Victoria.
    The assault on our culture is not confined to Muslims

    • Ilovelife

      Oh No!!! How ghastly!! I always thought Devonport would be a great place to live….seems I have the wrong impression

      • LesleyNZ

        There are quite a few of a different “breed” who live in Devonport with wacky ideas and some are very bossy. They are the vocal ones and seem to always get what they want. The local board members are rather scared of them.

        • Aucky

          Danny Watson?

        • Ilovelife

          Thanks for the heads up. Good to get the real oil.

        • Optimist

          Well said, Lesley

  • MaryLou

    Since parliament is supposed to represent us, shouldn’t we have a say in what they pledge before taking office? If there is to be a change it should either be consultative (widely) or at least put up for submissions

  • BlitzkriegNZ

    As long as the hard core athiest groups switch focus to smashing any creeping Islamic influence now that they’ve ground down Christianity I’ll be very happy.

    • friardo

      Don’t you understand that atheism is apposed to stupidity of Islam every bit as much as that of Christianity or any religion.

      Cheers, atheist epicurean.

      • BlitzkriegNZ

        Of course but attacking Christianity these days doesn’t result in death threats. Do they have the balls to take on Islam in the same way?
        I’m atheist, but not the militant type, it’s not my problem what other people want to think.

  • Crookednose

    I reckon there should be more fealty to us in the prayer. WE are a mere politicians true overlords anyway!

  • Albert Lane

    I must admit that the opening prayer confounds me. Here are our politicians, sitting quietly and listening to a prayer that talks about goodness and kindness and love at the start of the day’s proceedings. Then we get into question time, and it’s all on for young and old. Slander, lies, criticism, hatred, shouting, and derision – all under the shelter of “Parliamentary Privilege” which means that those who lie and slander can’t be held to justice in a court of law. What a travesty!! The prayer is totally at odds with what we say against our political enemies. A prayer of peace and tranquility is the opposite of reality in that place. If we’re going to have a prayer of sorts, let it be a simple prayer that encourages us to do our best for our Queen and Country.

    • metalnwood

      For all I know they end the session with the confessional and a handful of hail mary’s, so all is good.

    • Rick H

      Perhaps then, instead of a prayer, the opposing sides should perform a haka.
      Complete with the “throat slicing action” seen recently in some.
      Might be more fitting than the current “promises to be kind, good, lovely etc.

  • Kevin O’Brien

    Leave the prayer intact except to modify archaic language. Maori spirituality has no place in Christian prayer or life.

  • Sir Brucey

    Did not the MP Choudry force the removal of the cross from the Citadel In Palmerston North square but nobody bans the use of Muslim symbols like the moon and crescent. And like the good Muslim he was he went AWOL to avoid voting against the Labour Party bill to legalize prostitution. I am not a Christian but as Lloyd Geering once said to Brian Edwards ” but you are a Chisitian Atheist”. Christianity is inseperable from our Greek and Roman heritage.

  • The Accountant

    Sorry, and it scares me to say this, but it’s a case of not if but when. We have no way of turning the tide. They reproduce faster, they are more politically active and don’t compromise. I really feel for the future generations.

    • metalnwood

      Who are the ‘they’?

      It’s Basically white NZ’ers and Maoris who comprise ‘they’. Last census sad there are 1.27M people who are christian and 1.67M who are not religious.

      Whats left, the Muslims, Hindu’s etc comprise a much smaller number.

      The ‘they’ you are talking about is not immigrants with other religions, it’s the way NZ is going, full of white european descent who no longer believe in religion. Your kids and my kids and our friends kids, our friends, their friends.

      I think a lot of people are blaming the wrong thing.

      • The Accountant

        Nope. We’re just a few years behind the curve. Want proof? Look to England. France. Germany isn’t too far away. I can only hope I’m proven to be a worry wort and I’m tilting at windmills. But, I don’t want to be Lord Chamberlain either.

  • aero13

    Message to David Carter & the motley collection of misfit troughers who want to remove the prayer, if you don’t like our country’s Christian heritage and traditions, why not resign & get a proper job. Better still find another country. There are plenty of other places where Christianity isn’t permitted.

  • friardo

    Things change, including what people believe, always has. Christians today are generally not the ravening mob that sacked and burned the Library at Alexandra in 329 AD, there has been, despite ups and down a continual rise in the level of toleration over the centuries. The only way to combat what you think is undesirable change is for you and others to live your lives happily and well, more less as examples to all.

  • Optimist

    Leave the Parliamentary prayer as it is very deceitful to introduce some Maori expressions which nobody will understand anyway

  • Bryan

    This christmas we celebrate 200 years of the first Christian message spoken on the shores of this country By samuel marsden, who was invited by three Maori chiefs to come to NZ. One had been to England but was so ill treated and was shipped off to Australia and it was the same Samuel Marsden that nursed him during that trip and showed his christian beliefs in action . He was sent by the church Missionary society who was also has as one of its founders no other that the great reformer William Wilberforce, who brought great changes to the work force conditions.
    The Maori chief stayed with Marsden in Sydney after the trip and was very impressed with not only his message but also his agricultural skills on his farm at Parramatta Sydney, that he brought him to New Zealand to bring his message and Farming methods which is so much part of this country today.
    That morning they sat on their up turned Waka and listened as he brought his message and afterwards responded with a 400 man Haka of welcome.
    The early Maori took his Christain Message on board and it was very influencial in reducing the intertribal battles but the biggest thing was the translated the Bible into Maori and taught them to read !!! This message had great impact right down as far as Stewart Island and it was Te Rauparaha Son who had became a Christian who took that Message of change south as far as Stewart Island.
    The crucial benefit of all this was when in 1840 the treaty was written the Maori who came to sign could READ thanks to Marsden and his message and they signed and that is the crucial document of this country,on the basis of the Goodwill and trust of Marsden and His Message
    This nation had a very good christain basis, but we are walking away from our roots and yet every day we have item after item bemoaning the behaviour and standards yet we turn our backs on our basis and wonder why we have so many problems.
    There is nothing in that Simply Prayer asking for daily guidance, and reminding us of the basis of how our nation was started that needs to be deleted. It is not up to just MP’s they are there to represent the whole nation that certainly needs praying for every day
    That prayer embodies our heritage and also our future and Mr Speaker you need to remember that you have been handed down the message that Samuel Marsden brought
    “the same commit you to faithful men who will in turn teach others to teach other also”
    that’s four generations we are all still under that charge

  • I don’t often agree with mr Mallard, but in this case I do. The whole idea of a prayer before parliment is an anacronism.Due to the multicultralism we have in this country now, we end up with these sort of debates. Just look at the amount of feedback and comments any post on here about about religious education gets and yet we still insist on a prayer in parliment as if every single citizen attented the same Anglican Church.

    I have no issues with a sillent moment for individual prayer before parliment starts, but due to the variation of beleif, unless you cycle it through every beleif system in a systematic way you will not be representative. If you do that though you are bound to get somebody that is offended that such beleifs are even allowed into our parliment. We would for instance have to allow Pagans, Satanists & Fundamentalist Muslims.

    Your arguments about loss of Christmas symbolism is simply a strawman. Its happening in the US at the moment I’ll give you, but the US is nuts. Christmas is practiced by new immigrants from countries that have no history of it, I see it all the time in my shop. I suggest in this country we go the other way in our civil celebrations, lets celebrate Diwali, Ramadan, Matariki, Chinese New Year etc etc etc. Lets put a park aside in Ramadan in appropriate cities for after sunset feasts, make it open to all in the community. Lets decorate our streets for Chinese new year the same as we do Christmas. I’m sounding rather Left wing here, but I’m for it for entirely practical rather than feel good reasons. There is money to be made! Decorations, food, gifts to sell spread further throughout the year than just Christmas and easter.