Bishop elect Steve Maina in Nelson’s Christ Church Cathedral. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Nelson’s new bishop a ‘Kenyan Kiwi’


The road from Nairobi to Nelson may have been a long one but has led Steve Maina to head of the Anglican Church in the region.

Steve is now the Bishop-elect of the Anglican Diocese of Nelson which covers the top of the South Island – from Greymouth to Kaikoura.

He made the move to New Zealand 10 years ago to take on the role of national director of the Anglican Mission Organisation in Christchurch. He was then invited to put himself forward for the Bishop role after the previous Bishop, Richard Ellena, retired at the end of last year.

After Steve takes up the role, he will be the first Bishop of African descent in New Zealand.

He hopes the position will be about letting people be open to having faith in their lives.

“I think New Zealand is becoming very secular and individualistic and I feel there is something we can offer in that space as Christians,” he says. “We have a message of hope in a world that is very fragmented.”

Steve describes he and his wife Watiri as ‘Kenyan Kiwis” who will soon move up to Nelson to take on the role in August.

“My vision is to see faith having a bearing in society. We think to be healthy we need a good job and a good education, but we have forgotten about the spiritual aspect.

“A lot of people feel when you have got everything going for you why do you need God? Then something happens that can completely fragment our world. Then we begin to ask bigger questions.”

Steve was raised in the church with a father and grandfather who were Anglican minsters in Nairobi.

“I saw the love, our home was open to everyone,” he says. “There was always room for people from the street with a big pot of food. That has shaped in myself a Christianity that is open to others.”

He says his goal is to let people know that they don’t need to be lonely.

“New Zealand is too small for people to feel like nobody cares and nobody loves.”