Alumni Interview: Neihana Reihana

Neihana Reihana attended Venn Summer Conference 2020. He lives on site at St John’s Theological College with his wife, Ele, and their daughter, Whakaaria. Here he answers a few of our questions about what life in lockdown has been like.


Where do you work and what has changed/adapted given the lockdown?
I work part time for Oati Trust, an organisation that works towards the continual reconciliation of tangata whenua and tauiwi, and I’m a full-time student, studying theology at Laidlaw College.

My work meetings and classes have now turned into “zui” (hui on Zoom), which has been helpful. However, the library is closed so students can not get books out to assist with assignments. Thanks to Laidlaw, we have access to some e-books and journal articles online.


What are you looking forward to during this period?
I’ve enjoyed spending time with my whānau and trying out new recipes to cook and bake. I’m a creature of habit, and I think my wife (and I) were getting sick of the same chicken stir-fry. So I branched out recently and made chicken fettucine and cinnamon rolls. YouTube is a wonderful teacher.

At the start of lockdown, Ele and I had a discussion about what activities we wanted to start and then continue as part of our whānau rhythm moving out of lockdown. We have found going for walks as a family has been a great time to exercise, have a laugh, and check in on each other, and we’re looking forward to continuing these.


What are some challenges you are anticipating or have already experienced?
A challenge I’ve experienced is trying to meet deadlines and juggle my wife’s work commitments while having a toddler knock on the door during a “zui” and screaming “Pāpā! Māmā!” Other than that, we’re pretty blessed.

I’m also aware that the lockdown has forced us to become internally focused, but in considering Scripture, I’ve wondered what might it look like to lead my whānau while still being aware of and focused on other people outside my bubble? I’m unsure just yet. I don’t want us to feel like we must save the world from our bubble, but to have an impact on the world, one person at a time, through meaningful and intentional engagement.


What passages of Scripture have you found helpful and encouraging?
I’ve been writing a critical review of The Shack by William Young focused on its trinitarian theology. It’s interesting that the doctrine of God (God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) has no direct Scripture that states that God is one but three persons. And yet, if you look closely, you find many indirect scriptures which suggests that God is three persons. St Justin Martyr used Genesis 1:26, for example, in defence of the doctrine of God: “… let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness ….” There are many passages like Genesis 1:26 implying that God is one but three persons.

Finding trinitarian Scripture has been encouraging because it shows God’s complexity and greatness. When we try to describe him, even language limits our ability. I think it is not a coincidence that humanity can master most things but cannot master God. It’s humbling.


We’ve all got a bit more time on our hands, tell us about your favourite podcast, movie, or book, and why you like them


Ask NT Wright Anything
If you haven’t listened to the podcasts, go do it right now. NT Wright is the man. In this podcast, people email in theological questions and NT Wright answers them. Some questions are straight forward, while others are complex. He has a way of turning the most abstract concepts into bite-sized chunks that anyone can feed on.

Netflix series:

The Last Dance
I was influenced by the hype! This is a Netflix series about basketballer Michael Jordan and his pursuit of becoming one of the Greatest players Of All Time (GOAT). He shares a story from when he was a rookie. After a game one night, he was surprised to find his teammates crowded into a motel room either doing drugs, sleeping around, or drinking alcohol. He was invited to join them, but he refused because he was too focused on winning and being the best player. It speaks highly of his drive and mentality.

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