Remembering the Saints and Souls, New Zealand

This All Saints Day service was originally posted on the Progressive Christianity Aotearoa website.

This service may also be used for Matariki, a traditional Maori mid-winter festival which marks the beginning of a new year for Maori.  Matariki is a time for remembering the dead, and celebrating new life.

  • We gathered at the gateway to the cemetery, bringing flowers and greenery to put on graves.
  • Heketini called us with a karanga, and our local piper responded with the pipes as we walked over to the recent graves.
  • The minister welcomed people and read a short reading.
  • The minister read out the names of the people who have been buried here in the last year.  We were invited to call out the names of others.
  • We joined the piper in singing “Amazing Grace”
  • We were then free to wander through the graveyard, placing our flowers and remembering who was buried there.
  • The piper called us back to an older part of the graveyard, where someone from one of the older families told the story of their relatives buried there.
  • For the farewell prayer we sang the Celtic Blessing to finish the gathering.

An idea for All Hallows Eve:

I wondered what would happen if instead of sitting in our church buildings worrying about people missing the significance of All Hallows eve, we left the church building and got engaged in adding significance to the halloween celebrations going outside. I suggested we might gather at a church yard, with a fire and remember the people buried there, and place candles on their graves in remembrance