A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Catholic and Religious Media Gather In Windy Wellington

ARPA FlierIt was not only Rugby fans who converged on Wellington in the first week of Septemberfor a test-match, but also religious editors and publishers from all over Australia and the Pacific as well as New Zealand. Both the Australasian Catholic Press Association (ACPA) and the Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA) held their annual conferences in the NZ Capital.

The venue in downtown Wellington was comfortable but the weather progressed from pleasant and sunny to downright atrocious. Wellington produced one of those famous 100kph gales which had delegates clinging to lamposts to stay upright on the footpaths in Featherston Street.

ACPA attracted 52 delegates, while the ecumenical association registered 84 regular delegates, with some overlap from ACPA, and a handful of local non-member delegates who came for the workshops only. The highlights of both conferences were the Awards dinners. ACPA seated 71 guests at the Pines restaurant in Houghton Bay on Wellington’s South Coast, while ARPA entertained over 100 at the Grand Space at RYDGES hotel.

ACPA commonly has a boat ride to showcase local natural beauty, and this year it was historic Matiu/Somes Island in the middle of Wellington harbour.  A picnic at Days Bay  added a touch of Katherine Mansfield to the outing.
ACPA based the conference around keynote speakers: Dame Claudia Orange on the Treaty of Waitangi, Journalist Rosemary McLeod, and Youth Social worker Kitty McKinley. Archbishop John Dew celebrated the Conference Mass.

View from Lower Hutt

Wellington Harbour as it never looked during the conferences! Somes / Matiu Island in the foreground

The ARPA conference began with a formal Maori powhiri at the Wharewaka on the waterfront. The opening is traditionally a shared lunch with ACPA. The large group were called onto the marae, and speeches were exchanged. Speaking for the visitors was Henare Walmsley of the Wellington Catholic Maori community. We were hosted by the Port Nicholson Trust of Wellington.

The theme of the ARPA conference was BLOWN AWAY - the Four Winds. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy with a stormy Northerly buffeting the visitors. The conference was based mainly on workshops which were well attended, and a series of ‘hot-house’ short presentations which generated much interest.

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