The new Anglican vicar in Dargaville says he probably speaks Chinese better than English, which is interesting considering his full Maori heritage and South Auckland background.

Reverend Brendon Wilkinson was inducted into his new role at the Mission District of Northern Wairoa on February 18.

Two bishops and an archdeacon from Auckland as well as the Maori bishop were present to conduct the short service.

Having more than one bishop to induct a priest is “unheard of,” and Reverend Brendon says it was a special occasion.

“It was fantastic. We had a great turnout from local churches and other denominations which was also important.”

Reverend Brendon spent 25 years travelling between China and New Zealand as an electronic engineer before settling into study at St John’s Theological College.

He is fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin and says his work in China stemmed from his first ever job at a take-away shop.

“The owners sent me on an electronic course to give me some work after school. I ended up taking it on fulltime, and stayed in it for 25 years,” he says.

He spent most of his time in Guangzhou on mainland China, north-west of Hong Kong.

As the youngest boy from 14 children, with parents both in fulltime ministry (his mother is also a priest), he felt God’s calling to follow suit.

“Three of my brothers have been priests, and all of the others are involved in church in one way or another. I’m just the last one,” he says.

He had to dig out a map when he was selected to replace former vicar Susanne Green in Dargaville.

“I had never been here, didn’t even know where it was,” he says.

He says the appeal of the church, and the desire to do ministry were the main factors behind agreeing to shift north.

This is the first time he has taken on a role as priest in charge. He’s made the transition from St Lukes in Manurewa to Dargaville and is excited about the change while looking forward to settling in with his wife Leslie and four of his seven children.

“For now it’s just about taking some time to get to know the people,” he says.

The parishioners of St Luke’s, and lectures and students from St Johns Theological College, as well as friends and whanau travelled north to present Brendon to the Northern Wairoa