Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia & New Zealand
10 Macquarie Street
Chatswood NSW 2067
Contact: Laura Artinian
Tel: (02) 9419-8056
Fax: (02) 9904-8446
29 December 2004
PRIMATE VISITS THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY OF AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Primate of the Diocese of Australia & New Zealand, His Eminence Archbishop Aghan Baliozian met with the small but vibrant Armenian community of Auckland, New Zealand during a 5-day pastoral visit from 22-27 December. As the planned visit coincided with the Christmas celebrations of the western calendar, the presence of Archbishop Aghan during this holy season was even more significant for the community.
On his arrival at the airport late Wednesday afternoon, the Archbishop was warmly welcomed by a group of community members who had scheduled a busy few days of meetings, social outings and gatherings, and a liturgical service. The program also included a meeting with the Chief Justice of New Zealand, the Rt. Hon. Dame Sian Elias and a private visit with Dr and Mrs Minas Elias. Dr Elias is a refined Armenian gentleman of 88 years who migrated to New Zealand in the 1950's from Burma (Myanmar) and has been the face of Armenians in New Zealand ever since.
Friday afternoon, Archbishop Aghan was accompanied to the local cemetery by community members where he blessed the graves and offered prayers for the souls of the dearly departed Armenians interred in Auckland. The same evening, the community gathered together for an evening of traditional Armenian festivity with the children presenting a special concert for the Archbishop demonstrating their many talents and all they had learnt during their weekly lessons at Armenian school. The Archbishop was duly inspired and invited to present the children with award certificates. He later closed the evening with a speech and prayer.
During the 5-day visit, Archbishop Aghan took every spare moment to meet with individual families in their homes. On Sunday evening, Archbishop Aghan offered Holy Mass at St Peter's Anglican Church in Takapuna. Present also were clergy from the Anglican Church and Syrian Orthodox Church. The sermon gave spiritual comfort and nourishment to the close-knit Armenian congregation that have a special yearning to partake in the Divine Liturgy of their mother language. A reception followed the church service when community members had their final opportunity to enjoy the Archbishop's company in a social gathering before his return to Australia the following day.
The Armenian community in New Zealand is made of migrants from Iraq, Iran, Russia, Armenia, Uruguay, Lebanon and Jordan and numbers no more than 110. All have settled in the city of Auckland on the north island of New Zealand. The oldest Armenian family in New Zealand is known to be the Zohrab family dating back to the 1860's, followed by the Elias family who settled in the mid 1900's.
Contact with the Armenian Society of New Zealand can be made through the Chairman, Mr Ara Ovanessoff at email@example.com