Page 7 - CANZHistoryUpdated
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But a connection had started before this. In January   So why is it important to get this stuff on the record?
               1994, the more activist celebrants of Australia had   Human beings need to do this. I have observed for
               decided to unite into a national organisation, the   example, that as people get older, they tend to get
               Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants (AFCC). Very   more interested in recording their family history.
               early on, we received a letter from a New Zealander
               applying for membership. Inside the envelope      The psychologists tell us that it is vital for our mental
               the celebrant had enclosed a six-panel pamphlet   health that we humans have a sense of identity. Such
               describing her services as a celebrant. In our terms, it   a sense is established in the soul from a knowledge of
               was “very advanced”, offering ceremonies Australians   personal and cultural history.
               had never dreamed of. This celebrant was the      We also see this quest for identity in the many stories
               incomparable Mary Hancock – a pioneer contributor in   of adopted children deeply driven to seek out their
               so many ways.                                     biological parents. More recently, I have observed my

               Soon after this, the AFCC established a series of live-in   fellow citizens paying for DNA tests to discover their
               conferences – our first “international lecturer” was Mary   remote ancestry.
               Hancock. She introduced us to the whole spectrum   It was Aristotle who said that if you really wish
               of ceremonies for life events other than births,   to understand a human institution, you study its
               deaths and marriages. Mary freely acknowledged    beginnings. Sherryl has chronicled and ordered the
               that New Zealand European culture had been        CANZ records of achievement from the beginning so
               influenced by Māori culture and she opened our    that you, as a CANZ celebrant, may know where you
               minds to ceremonies for all the milestones of human   came from and how you came to be here. Armed with
               life: birth, puberty, adolescence, preliminaries to   this knowledge, hopefully you have the mental tools
               marriage, childbirth (burying the placenta!), and on to   to construct a pathway to an even more productive
               menopause (male and female!) and croning.         future.
               Not very long after this, Mary inaugurated the first   Let us pat ourselves on the back for what we have
               formally recognised training program for celebrants in   done. Our ceremonies have added to the sum total
               the world, as Sherryl records.                    of human happiness, and diminished the sum total
               So, from the haka to the Hancock, you have learned   of human sadness. Our celebrant ceremonies have
               from us, and we have learned from you.            contributed to mental equanimity for hundreds of
                                                                 thousands of people in New Zealand, Australia, the
               Somehow through Mary’s connection, and the very   UK and the USA. This statement does not need a lot
               intelligent public servant who recommended my book   of backing up if you know the horror of non-religious
               Ceremonies for Today (now Ceremonies and Celebrations)   weddings and funerals before our founder Lionel
               to New Zealand celebrants, I received the invitation   Murphy, a visionary genius on many fronts, put a stop
               to Christchurch. So that is how I became an entry in   to these indignities in 1973.
               Sherryl Wilson’s book.
                                                                 As I read through the records, my heart gave little leaps
                                                                 of pleasure as I recalled my New Zealand friends. I
                                                                 made so many, too, the second time I came to Yvonne
                                                                 Foreman’s wonderful get-together in Hamilton, and
                                                                 the conference Sherryl Wilson herself organised in
                                                                 Auckland.






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