The country's first dreadlocked, barefoot bishop has been ordained to his seat at Wellington's Anglican Cathedral.
Waikanae commune co-founder Justin Duckworth, 44, was led into his cathedral by about 140 family and supporters yesterday, after being voted in by fellow bishops.
His popularity was apparent as people overflowed the 1200 available seats to stand in aisles and watch from the foyer, cheering as he was officially ordained to his Wellington seat.
And there was giggling as their bishop donned his mitre (the traditional bishop's hat) on top of his long bohemian hair-do for the first time.
Despite his previous qualms, it fitted.
Speaking about her free-spirited husband who previously shied away from the mainstream church, Jenny Duckworth said she would "gladly share" him with the Wellington diocese.
"I'm not sure what is the greatest miracle, the diocese choosing Justin, or Justin choosing the diocese."
She talked of their "hidden-away" commune in the Reikorangi Valley, near Waikanae, before singing a short piece for the congregation.
Justin Duckworth was handed a wooden matai traveller's staff, carved by a member of the Ngati Porou at Rimutaka Prison – where he said he used to be more comfortable than facing a crowd of nearly 2000 people.
But he wanted to "leave a legacy amongst the lost, the last and the least", he said. "I want to say how proud I am to be your bishop."
Foxton resident Joan Bassett came with "busloads" of well-wishers to see their new bishop.
"It's a wonderful, inspiring event to happen in our life.
"The bishop is a leader of all people and he spoke so well. With humility and courage.
"He is perfect."
Duckworth later explained her husband's bare feet as being "just that he doesn't like wearing shoes".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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