A Pacific Brand of Theology

‘If you are passionate about Pacific theology and the region, come to the Pacific Theological College (PTC),’ urges Reni Maiava,

The Pacific brand of theology brought Reni Maiava thousands of miles from Auckland to PTC in Suva, Fiji.

Ms Maiava is in the first year of her Masters of Theology programme.

The launch of two books on Pacific indigenous relational world-views whetted her appetite.

Relational Hermeneutics: Decolonising the Mindset and the Pacific Itulagi by Aisake Casimira and Rev. Dr. Upolu Vaai and the Relational Self: Decolonising Personhood in the Pacific by Rev. Dr. Upolu Vaai and Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba.

‘I met Rev. Dr. Vaai at the launch at the University of Auckland, excited about what I was reading,’ Ms. Maiava said.

‘Reading about Pacific Itulagi orientated my personal identification as a Pacific Islander and Samoan born in New Zealand,’ she said.

‘I wanted to learn Pacific theology from Rev. Dr. Upolu and Dr. Faafetai and other Pacific theologians and teachers promoting Pacific indigenous spirituality.’

‘These theologians make theology relevant for us.’

‘It isn’t abstract and something we are doing because we had the luxury of learning.

‘God is active for us and is calling each one of us.’

‘What they are doing in giving Pacific Christianity a voice through theology and Pacific academia is exciting.’

The Reweaving the Ecological Mat (REM) project coordinated by the Institute for Mission and Research of PTC is another effort using Pacific indigenous spirituality and theological perspectives to address the region’s neoliberal development model.

Labelled unsuitable, the model causes harm to forests, rivers, seas, streams, wildlife. This then harms Pacific islanders’ spirituality. It is a spirituality founded on close kinships with nature.

The REM project promotes a return to these ecological relationship. It urges a relook and reconsideration of Pacific island countries’ development models. The churches are part of the process. REM hopes to offer the world a new paradigm centred on the survival of all life.

‘The Pacific has a lot to offer the body of Christ and how we can help each other,’ said Ms Maiava.

‘We bring much richness working together as churches.

‘The people will see that this is useful for the body of Christ globally,’ she added.

Ms. Maiava is the middle child of Namoli’i and Oteli Maiava from Samoa.

Born, raised and educated in Auckland, she felt the call to theology in the year 2000.

But it wasn’t until 15 years later that she answered God’s call.

‘I love it and I can see how theology can actually make a difference,’ she said.

‘And that’s what I want. To be able to contribute to the difference theology is making, giving life.’

She hopes to make a difference especially in the area of women and theology.

‘I chose God when I was 24 and I hope the rest of my life is an adventure as it has been so far especially since joining PTC.’

PTC has a strong multicultural, multi lingual, Pacific islands community.

‘I’m right in the thick of experiencing my brothers and sisters from Maohi Nui, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati and Fiji,’ she said.

‘It’s not for the faint-hearted.

‘If you have Pacific blood and studying theology, you should come.’

‘Be the pioneer.’

‘Break down some walls.’

‘Forge some new pathways for women.

‘As Pacific women we have seen adversity and we have overcome and that is what w can offer other sisters in Christ.’

‘The way we forge through things is important.’

‘We have a lot of love and a lot of grace.’

‘I know I have been given it.’