5 Dec 2014

Lord, hear our prayer?

8:33 am on 5 December 2014

A decision will be made next week on whether to change the prayer that has been said in Parliament since 1962.

The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae Governor General of New Zealand  during the official opening of Parliament in Wellington

The Governor-General and MPs gather during this year's official opening of Parliament on 21 October 2014. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

MPs have until today to indicate to the Speaker whether they would like to adopt a new prayer - which would see references to "true religion" and "Jesus Christ our Lord" removed.

Green MP David Clendon said the new version reflected a more ethnically diverse New Zealand.

"The Green Caucus discussed this and we've written to the Speaker indicating our support for the change he's proposing," Mr Clendon said.

His boss Russel Norman, however, did not get the memo. "The Green Caucus hasn't really discussed it yet particularly. We've discussed it a little bit; we haven't formed a final view."

Labour's Grant Robertson said he felt society had moved on since the current prayer was introduced more than 50 years ago.

"There's some language in it that doesn't really suit a modern era and I'm prepared to look at some changes to it. I think it's important we have some kind of reflection at the start of the day."

Chris Finlayson

Chris Finlayson Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

United Future's Peter Dunne agreed.

"I think that we need to have a prayer that reflects New Zealand today," he said.

"I think there should be a Parliamentary prayer to start each day but I think it's one that should be inclusive of contemporary New Zealand."

Yet the proposed new prayer did not fill National's Chris Finlayson with fervour.

"I thought that the proposal that was put forward was a little bit odd and I couldn't support that, so I guess the status quo is the best option."

His colleague Steven Joyce did not wish to comment on whether it was appropriate for Jesus Christ to remain in the Parliamentary prayer.

"I have to be careful about that because I'm a lapsed Catholic and I'm on very shaky theological ground."

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

Te Ururoa Flavell Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Speaker David Carter will decide next week whether to keep or change the current prayer, which is used to open sittings of the House, to his proposed alternative.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was adamant Jesus Christ should stay.

"Well, times might have been moved on but, you know, I still see the stripes in the American flag, of the original colonies. I still see a great number of things that other countries hold on to," he said.

"Frankly, we're sick and tired of people flooding into this country and wanting to change all our traditions and all our values and all our laws."

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell was a fan of the proposed new prayer and said he thought it would sound great in reo Maori.

"It's trying to make it sound really melodic and appropriate for the occasion which is basically to settle everybody's spirits before they get into going the opposite way and criticising everybody in Parliament."

However, Mr Flavell said he believed Parliament was too conservative to change the prayer.

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