God loves you
Kaumatua, Justice of the Peace, school chaplain, locum hospital chaplain, husband, father, grandfather, son and now the new pastor at St David’s Presbyterian Church, Richard Rangihuna speaks to Sophie Rishworth . . .
Being one of 18 children taught Richard Rangihuna a lot about getting along with people. There were a lot of squabbles, sometimes you learned lessons the hard way, but there was a lot of fun too. It was a childhood of running up and down hills, going to the river for swims and diving for seafood from the beach at Christmas.
“There was never a dull moment,” he says.
Mr Rangihuna was number 15 in the line up but from early on, it was him who was asked to speak on behalf of the family.
He remembers his first gospel sermon at the age of 13.
“I’ve never flinched from day one to get up in front of a crowd.”
Next Friday, Mr Rangihuna will be officially commissioned as the new pastor at St David’s Church on the corner of Rutene Road and De Lautour Road.
The enthusiastic congregation see it as confirmation of what Mr Rangihuna has already done, and been, for them.
He finishes up his role as a locum chaplain at Gisborne Hospital today so he can take up the role as pastor to the St David’s congregation.
Mr Rangihuna, 71, was raised in a Christian home, there was Sunday School every week and church services were held at people’s homes in the small East Coast community of Te Araroa — where he and his brothers and sisters were all born and raised. Their strong faith saw them through hard times.
When Richard was aged 10, they lost their father tragically in a farm accident.
Mr Rangihuna said his mother never married again, and looked after her 18 children through thick and thin, including providing three meals a day.
“Mum could make a meal out of nothing,” he remembers.
She would also sew clothes and furnishings from rags, and grew a huge garden to feed her family.
“Mum just carried on every day and didn’t appear to be stressed — we were all properly dressed and bathed.
“I’m very blessed to have had a good upbringing in that region and in the Christian faith and to be loved by a Christian father and mother.
“That keeps families together when the love comes from the top.”
Mr Rangihuna and his wife Eva have four children of their own, and have brought them all up the same way.
Growing up, Mr Rangihuna’s family were brought up speaking te reo at home, and in the community. It was not until Mr Rangihuna started school at five that he began to learn the English language.
“I tell you what, learning English was hard as. But I’m glad I learned it and learned it well. I’m so thankful I went to school.”
Mr Rangihuna attended Whakaangiangi Primary School, Te Araroa Primary School and Rerekohu Maori District High School.
He describes himself humbly as an average student. But made it through exams gaining his high school qualifications, including School Certificate, from a determination and motivation within.
Since then, Mr Rangihuna has added a Bachelor of Arts with honours from Waikato University in Te Reo and Tikanga. He also worked in the Post Office administration in Grey Street for 25 years, and has been a bus driver.
He pays particular credit to Reverend Mary Petersen for his journey to becoming a pastor, who not once, but twice had an impact on the direction of his life.
As a mentor Reverend Petersen has guided and supported Mr Rangihuna into his new role as pastor at St David’s.
In 1995 Reverend Petersen also helped him towards becoming a school chaplain at Awapuni School — a role he has held for 23 years and continues in to this day. He is also on the Awapuni School Board of Trustees.
He has felt the calling to become a pastor in his life, and is well supported by all who know him — mainly because it recognises what he has already done for people in the community.
Part of Mr Rangihuna’s pastoral ministry will be to support Nancy Smith, a member of the St David’s congregation, with Mercy Ministries, which works alongside people whose families have been affected by drugs or suicide.
Through his work he has worked with many people in distress.
The most important thing is his compassion for all people, letting them know he cares — irrespective of colour, creed, race or faith, he says.
“God cares and God loves you. I always look to him for the way forward in life,” he says.
Richard Rangihuna’s commissioning to become the pastor for St Davids will be held at the church on Friday, November 16, at 5pm.