A world apart

Pastoral care, love and spiritual support are all part of Awapuni School chaplain Richard Rangihuna’s day.

Pastoral care, love and spiritual support are all part of Awapuni School chaplain Richard Rangihuna’s day.

THE CALM HEART: Awapuni School chaplain, kaumatua, Maori adviser and board of trustees member Richard Rangihuna, describes himself as a transparent presence in the school grounds.

HIS role in the mid-1960s as a horse racing results teleprinter operator could seem at odds with his role as school chaplain, but Richard Rangihuna always had a spiritual core.

He is pleased to still have the keyboard skills he had as a teleprinter though.

“I typed 100 to 200 words a minute. I can still do that today. It never leaves you,” he says.

When teleprinter technology became outmoded, Richard moved into clerical work. His spiritual calling is a world apart from that though, he says.

Born into a family of 18 children, raised and educated in Te Araroa, Richard was 10 years old when his father died in a farm accident.

“My wonderful mother battled on to bring up these 18 kids she was left with,” says Richard.

“We were self-sufficient. We had our own vegetable gardens and lived off meat from the farm. We only had to get a few things from town.”

Brought up with strong Christian values, Richard and his siblings had Sunday school run by Open Brethren once a fortnight in the Rangihuna family home. On alternate weeks, the Rangihuna kids went to Sunday school run by the Salvation Army at a neighbour’s place six or seven kilometres down the road.

“We also had church services in our own home and other homes in our neighbourhood during the week.”

Te reo Maori was the family’s first language and the kids learned English at school.

A move to Gisborne

In 1965, the family moved to Gisborne in search of employment. When Richard was 18 years old, his mother sent him to Wellington to work for the General Post Office as a telegraphist. Two years later, he transferred to Gisborne where he climbed the corporate ladder through positions such as senior clerk, supervisor and acting manager.

Then in 1989, after 24 years of continuous service, he was made redundant.

He took on various jobs — freezer worker, kiwifruit packer, truckie, taxi driver and labourer, then at 22 he was balloted to take on national service training as a rifleman with the New Zealand Army national service unit.

Three years later, he married a girl from Ruatoria. The couple celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary this year.

Having been brought up with strong Christian values, Richard spearheaded visits for 10 years from 1990 with a group of six people from his church to Mangaroa and Waikeria prisons. He was 48 when he qualified as a chaplain in 1995.

“I had a desire to support people through a pastoral role, kids in particular. In 1995 I was selected to go on an intensive chaplain training course. It covered all aspects of pastoral care.”

Richard was the first chaplain to be appointed to a Gisborne state school. The voluntary position provides pastoral care and spiritual support for the school community. Pastoral care affects all students’ lives, he says.

“Then all through their lives it helps them make the right choices. You might ask ‘why do I do it?’ It is a love for the kids and for the school deeper than one’s soul. It comes from a spiritual dimension — to guide these kids along the way. To be a friend, a confidante and a good Samaritan.

“I’m transparent out in the school grounds. I mix and mingle. Kids can come and talk to me. I encourage them in their activities and sports and to aspire to greater heights in their education.”

A lack of spiritual guidance has a bearing on a child’s life, he says.

“I think schools need chaplains to undertake this pastoral care and to give these kids a good start in life. You’re not there to preach or to try to convert them. You are there to guide them spiritually.”

He also has a role with the school as kaumatua, Maori adviser and board of trustees member. Apart from that, he has a secular role as a community support worker with IDEA services.

“I’m a caregiver for people with intellectual disabilities. I look after five gentlemen in the residential home and care for their needs like cooking, washing, ironing. I do some of it but encourage and oversee the residents. I offer them a shoulder to lean on and help them have a good life.

“It’s a different job from what I’m used to but at the end of the day, it’s for the love of people.”

HIS role in the mid-1960s as a horse racing results teleprinter operator could seem at odds with his role as school chaplain, but Richard Rangihuna always had a spiritual core.

He is pleased to still have the keyboard skills he had as a teleprinter though.

“I typed 100 to 200 words a minute. I can still do that today. It never leaves you,” he says.

When teleprinter technology became outmoded, Richard moved into clerical work. His spiritual calling is a world apart from that though, he says.

Born into a family of 18 children, raised and educated in Te Araroa, Richard was 10 years old when his father died in a farm accident.

“My wonderful mother battled on to bring up these 18 kids she was left with,” says Richard.

“We were self-sufficient. We had our own vegetable gardens and lived off meat from the farm. We only had to get a few things from town.”

Brought up with strong Christian values, Richard and his siblings had Sunday school run by Open Brethren once a fortnight in the Rangihuna family home. On alternate weeks, the Rangihuna kids went to Sunday school run by the Salvation Army at a neighbour’s place six or seven kilometres down the road.

“We also had church services in our own home and other homes in our neighbourhood during the week.”

Te reo Maori was the family’s first language and the kids learned English at school.

A move to Gisborne

In 1965, the family moved to Gisborne in search of employment. When Richard was 18 years old, his mother sent him to Wellington to work for the General Post Office as a telegraphist. Two years later, he transferred to Gisborne where he climbed the corporate ladder through positions such as senior clerk, supervisor and acting manager.

Then in 1989, after 24 years of continuous service, he was made redundant.

He took on various jobs — freezer worker, kiwifruit packer, truckie, taxi driver and labourer, then at 22 he was balloted to take on national service training as a rifleman with the New Zealand Army national service unit.

Three years later, he married a girl from Ruatoria. The couple celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary this year.

Having been brought up with strong Christian values, Richard spearheaded visits for 10 years from 1990 with a group of six people from his church to Mangaroa and Waikeria prisons. He was 48 when he qualified as a chaplain in 1995.

“I had a desire to support people through a pastoral role, kids in particular. In 1995 I was selected to go on an intensive chaplain training course. It covered all aspects of pastoral care.”

Richard was the first chaplain to be appointed to a Gisborne state school. The voluntary position provides pastoral care and spiritual support for the school community. Pastoral care affects all students’ lives, he says.

“Then all through their lives it helps them make the right choices. You might ask ‘why do I do it?’ It is a love for the kids and for the school deeper than one’s soul. It comes from a spiritual dimension — to guide these kids along the way. To be a friend, a confidante and a good Samaritan.

“I’m transparent out in the school grounds. I mix and mingle. Kids can come and talk to me. I encourage them in their activities and sports and to aspire to greater heights in their education.”

A lack of spiritual guidance has a bearing on a child’s life, he says.

“I think schools need chaplains to undertake this pastoral care and to give these kids a good start in life. You’re not there to preach or to try to convert them. You are there to guide them spiritually.”

He also has a role with the school as kaumatua, Maori adviser and board of trustees member. Apart from that, he has a secular role as a community support worker with IDEA services.

“I’m a caregiver for people with intellectual disabilities. I look after five gentlemen in the residential home and care for their needs like cooking, washing, ironing. I do some of it but encourage and oversee the residents. I offer them a shoulder to lean on and help them have a good life.

“It’s a different job from what I’m used to but at the end of the day, it’s for the love of people.”

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