I have been invited to contribute some thoughts for the Easter season, on behalf of the Board of Anglican Financial Care. The first thing that came to mind is that our members and customers are a mixed bunch. Some lay, some ordained, some Anglican, some from other denominations, and some affiliated with the Christian message via their workplaces or their connection with how we work. We’re also spread across Aotearoa, New Zealand, and the Pacific. It’s unlikely that Easter will mean the same to even some of us, let alone all of us.
Lent, the 6 weeks leading up to Easter, has sometimes been a time to fast or give up something. I found the words of Pope Francis entitled “Do you want to fast this Lent?” to be a refreshing approach. They’re easy to find online if you haven’t come across them. My takeaway was rather than focussing on negative thoughts and actions, we can choose to focus on positive thoughts and behaviours, somewhat like Phil. 4:8-9.
What does this look like in practice when we are surrounded by challenges? The wider church, faith, and community context is quite different this year to others. Many of us are somewhat over the impact of Covid-19 on our lives, even while being grateful we live where we do. Our Christian Church leaders have just had their annual meeting with the Prime Minister and focussed on Welfare, Income, and Wellbeing; Covid-19 and Vaccinations; and Housing. The issues they raised are what some term “wicked problems” i.e. thorny, complex, seemingly intractable realities. And faith communities are in the process of reporting to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care. We, collectively, are having to account for our past transgressions. These are just a few of the many issues on our radar as Christians.
The community of Mangere that I live in is diverse, complex, exciting, young, challenged, and challenging. The media usually choose to portray the challenges rather than the strengths, talents, and opportunities that exist in abundance. As I write this, I am looking at a stunning, multi-coloured sunrise. It could mean rain if you believe the shepherds. And it could mean the sky was painted with such beauty to remind us that, in the words of the poem Desiderata “with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
As Christians we are all called, whether lay or ordained, to share God’s love with others. Sometimes the “sham, drudgery and broken dreams” can feel overwhelming. And that’s where the hope of Easter comes in for me. Easter reminds me that there is always the possibility of a new beginning. God is available to me in my life just as God was experienced by Jesus’ first followers, both before and after his death. The forces that killed Jesus, were unable to stop the ongoing experience of God in our lives that we name resurrection.
So, amidst the busy Easter services for some, the last of the summer holidays for others, the pastoral challenges you may face, the Easter eggs, and the Easter sales, I wish you an encounter with the God of resurrection; an encounter that surprises you, maybe startles you, refreshes you, and then excites you with the possibilities of new life.
Deputy Chair, Anglican Financial Care
Your Christian KiwiSaver Scheme is unique in having direct investment in a pine forest in the southern Hawkes Bay, Hapua Forest.
Just like KiwiSaver, forestry is a long-term investment with a typical forest usually taking some 25 years to mature. Our forestry land value has soared in recent times as investors have come to realise the ability of forestry to provide a carbon offset.
We’ve almost completed harvesting our first crop which was planted as seedlings in 1992-1993 and since 2018 we’ve been steadily replanting our land. So far over 300,000 seedlings have been planted. The next photo shows an area of seedlings planted in 2018.
Replanting in 2020 faced some obstacles with COVID-19 affecting the availability of labour and the Hawkes Bay drought delaying replanting. Some of the forest land is also not suitable for replanting, we don’t plant along the banks of the waterways and there are areas of native bush that we wish to protect and leave to regenerate. See the photo below of an area of retained native bush.
In our October 2019 article, we mentioned that we source our seedlings from Murrays Nurseries Woodville. Seedlings are ready for planting when 25–30 centimetres tall and are mainly planted by hand. It’s labour intensive and done by skilled teams. The number of trees planted per hectare can vary from 600 to 1,400.
Radiata pine was first introduced to New Zealand in the late 1850s to see if it would be a good candidate for widespread planting. Its excellent growth rate prompted seed imports from California in the 1870s, mainly for shelterbelts and woodlots. By the first forestry planting boom in the 1920s and 1930s, it had been adopted as the species of choice.
It proved to be versatile and grew well throughout New Zealand on a variety of soil types, including coastal sands, heavy clays, gravels and volcanic ash deposits.
Logging is a big deal in New Zealand. It is our third largest industry after dairy and meat.
A third of the world’s radiata forests are grown in New Zealand, with Australia and Chile being other major producers. New Zealand now has 1.75 million hectares of planted forest, of which some 90 percent is radiata pine, much in first rotation forests. These forests cover around 7% of New Zealand, which’s about the same area as 10 Stewart Islands. A substantial part of New Zealand (24%) is also covered in indigenous (native) forest.
There are other articles on Hapua Forest in February 2019 and October 2019.
Like almost anything of value we own, your KiwiSaver account needs a little love and attention now and then. Let’s call it a health check. It won’t take long, and your KiwiSaver account will love you for it.
Look at it as a “do-it-yourself Warrant of Fitness”. We suggest it be done annually; perhaps at the beginning of each year or when you receive your annual member statement.
- Is your investment profile suitable for your current situation?
This is about where your funds are invested. Is your choice of investment funds too conservative, too aggressive or just right?
The Sorted website has a useful tool to help you called Investor Kickstarter at www.sorted.org.nz/tools/investor-kickstarter. You answer a few questions and it provides a guide to what type of investor you are, a typical investment mix for your type and what sorts of returns you could expect.
- Are you contributing enough?
If you can afford it, should you increase your contribution rate or make extra voluntary contributions?
If you have suspended making contributions, is it time to recommence contributing?
The Sorted website has another useful tool to help you with these questions, the KiwiSaver Savings Calculator www.sorted.org.nz/tools/kiwisaver-savings-calculator. You answer a few questions and it provides a guide on how big your balance could be at age 65 and how much you could get per week in retirement. Try different contribution rates to see the impact on your future savings.
- Is your Personal Investor Rate (PIR) correct?
You don’t want to have too much tax taken from your KiwiSaver earnings or too little and face a tax bill by having the wrong PIR rate. Your PIR is based on your income. If that changes, so might your PIR. We have a handy guide to help you with calculating your PIR on the scheme’s website www.christiankiwisaver.nz/documents.
If these three items are in good order, your KiwiSaver account should be running well.
Our staff are happy to help you with any questions you have on this.
Our hearts filled with wonder and awe
I greet you in the name of the infant saviour, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, our hearts filled with wonder and awe. I bring greetings from all at Anglican Financial Care this Christmas. We are coming to the end of an extraordinary year where our lives have been disrupted by the onset of a global pandemic. The message of hope coming to us in human form in the birth of the Christ child this Christmas is needed more than ever.
The story of Jesus’ birth as St Luke tells it, provides a lot of detail that at first glance seems quite trivial. There is reference to Emperor Augustus, Quirinius the governor of Syria, evoking the names of rulers who left indelible marks on the collective memory of the people, probably because of their ruthless use of power. We hear of Joseph having to travel with Mary to Bethlehem because he is a descendant of King David for the purpose of a census, which rulers only ever organised when they needed more tax to fund their latest project. We hear of shepherds, outsiders everyone kept away from, keeping watching over their flocks under the light of the stars, evoking a reminder of the immensity of the universe God created, and yet it is the littles ones, the poor and the marginalised who first receive the Good News. All of these details might seem peripheral, but they matter a great deal. They tell us that Love has come from the heavens to dwell with us. Love has come down from heaven entering a real world where people are living real lives.
It is, in fact, a very simple message: Love has come down from heaven to dwell among us; Love that brings joy, peace, and healing to a broken world. In the birth of Christ we see Love being lived in a real human life, a vulnerable child showing us the fullness of God; God coming to our level to speak to us in a language we can easily understand. It is Love, bringing to birth the faith and hope that the world needs so much.
The arrival of a global pandemic has created much uncertainty for many. Livelihoods and incomes remain uncertain for many. In response, world governments are spending trillions of dollars to stimulate their economies and provide their citizens with income support. As this huge expenditure is rolled out across the world, now is the time to ask our governments to use that expenditure to restructure our economies to rid the world of poverty and ensure income security for the most vulnerable, and to move us into the future with a lower carbon footprint. The message of Christmas is that all human life, and all creation, is holy and precious, capable of being filled with God. If God treats every person as holy and loveable, then every human being must be treated with reverence and respect and enabled to participate in society with dignity. If creation itself is filled with the presence of God, it behoves us all to use our influence to care for the planet. Moving our economic policy settings to take action on these matters of such importance for our future would be a wonderful gift this Christmas, a way of giving thanks to God for the gift of Jesus Christ.
Love from heaven comes to dwell with us. This Love is simply present; fragile, vulnerable, dependent, and yet more splendid than we could ever have imagined. It is this Love that motivates us to act and to care, that moves and us and stirs us to ensure all people of the world may dwell in peace, and that the well-being of the planet is looked after for the future.
May the grace and peace of God indwell you and all you love this Christmas.
Dean Lawrence Kimberley