Aotearoa New Zealand Yearly Meeting

Margaret Clark, Canberra and Region Quakers

When Yearly Meeting Nominations Committee asked me to serve as the 2024 Quakers Australia representative to Aotearoa New Zealand Yearly Meeting I thought “mmmm … my name would not have occurred to me”.  So, I contacted the 2023 representative, Ann Zubrick, who was kind enough to have a chat. She assured me that I would be fine in the role, and that I would find it spiritually and personally enriching.

 I thanked Ann then, and I thank her now.  Even though a few weeks have passed (24-27 April), I still have the Friendly “warm and fuzzies” which, in my experience, follow in the wake of Quaker fellowship, laughter and collective worship.

 Before anyone raises the issue of carbon emissions and travel, let me say that I didn’t travel. The Yearly Meeting was hybrid, so I sat where I am now, at my desk in front of a large computer screen, coffee cup in hand.  While I did feel very much a part of Aotearoa New Zealand Yearly Meeting, I missed the opportunity to spend time with more Friends over meals and tea, and to travel and worship among them.

 Friends will not be surprised to hear that Michael Searle and Ronis Chapman were working magic with technology. Aotearoa New Zealand Friends were very patient as microphones and computers were adjusted and readjusted so those of us online could fully participate in the sessions and discernments.  Regular breakout rooms ensured that those of us online formed a community within the YM community.

It was an exciting time to be with Aotearoa New Zealand Friends as they launched their revised Faith and Practice:  On These Islands I runga I ngā motu nei Quaker Faith & Practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. This version updates the 2003 content with new text and images, broadening their understanding of Quaker whakapapa (genealogy) in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The 2024 Quaker Lecture, A Queer Gift: Stepping Beyond the Mindset, was delivered by some members of Rainbow Quakers. The deeply moving lecture included personal stories about navigating a queer life in a heteronormative world.

Filling the role of Yearly Meeting Clerk is challenging the YM Nominations Committee, and is prompting broader discussions about the future structures for the organization. I shared some of my experiences as part of a working group on restructuring the Australian Yearly Meeting Office, and the new Quakers Australia structure.


As well as my short presentation about how the Spirit is moving among Australian Friends, talks were delivered by: Herrad Heselhaus (Japan Yearly Meeting), Lindsay Fielder-Cook (QUNO Representative on Climate Change) and Kay Harrison (New Zealand Climate Change Ambassador).  The climate change talks were particularly timely and provided Friends with useful insights in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in November 2024.

 I’m very grateful for the opportunity to attend Aotearoa New Zealand Yearly Meeting and to be part of such a Spirit-filled community. 

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