The Catholic Bishop in Christchurch is warning that the celebration of Mass in Te Reo Maori is diminishing, which has prompted the Maori arm of the church to call - for the hahi to improve links with tangata whenua.
At the most recent New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Bishop Barry Jones voiced concerns that the Mass in Te Reo was slowly dying due to a lack of priests, who could conduct them in Maori.
Bishop Jones, a Pakeha, believed he is the only priest in the South Island who could speak Te Reo said the Maori Mass had been the foundation of the Catholic Church in New Zealand and it would be terrible if that aspect was lost.
Executive member of Te Runanga o Te Hāhi Katorika - the Maori Catholic Council, Danny Karatea-Goddard, said unlike 30 years ago when there were many Maori missionaries who could speak Te Reo, there were not enough new priests coming through who could speak the language.
He said those priests who serviced Maori parishioners in the past knew all of the whanau in their communities including their whakapapa.
Mr Goddard said now that those ministers had gone the church did not have that same relationship with tangata whenua.
Vicar to Maori Catholics in the Palmerston North diocese said the church was in a position where, not only, was there a lack of Te Reo being used at Mass, each diocese with a significant Maori population needs to provided more pastoral care to Maori people.
Danny Karatea-Goddard believed that there were about a dozen Catholic priests who had Maori ancestry and the challenge now was to recruit more young Maori men to join the priesthood.