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Dream fulfilled as Auckland Fijians buy first church

With the purchase of a former Seventh Day Adventist church building in Onehunga, the ko Viti kei Rotuma e Niu Siladi has realised a six year ambition.

Until now Auckland’s Fijian Methodists have held their services in other congregations’ churches. Now, with their own property, they will be able to establish their own distinct presence.

“We see the church as a human development centre. Along with the church itself, there is a multi-purpose hall that we can use to meet our social, cultural and physical needs. It is the place where we can nurture, support and encourage our young ones who are born here,” says former superintendent Rev Ilaitia Tuwere.

For the past eight years Auckland’s Fijian speakers have met at Wesley Church in Mt Roskill.

Steward Manasa Namerua says the congregation formally worshipped at the Methodist Church in Mt Eden but it suffered a split over the ordination of gays and lesbians and about that time moved to Mt Roskill.

“Dr Tuwere became our superintendent in 2001 and at that time we began to have quarterly meetings. Then there were three Fijian Methodist churches in Auckland. In 2002 we decided to bring the three together and put all our strength into one church to buy a property,” Manasa says.

“We began fundraising as a congregation. Our fundraising has included walkathons and a special offering every September in which each family gives $1000. We have also held two rugby sevens tournaments, in 2005 and 2006.

“The tournaments were sponsored by Henderson Motors and the Auckland Rugby Union helped organise them. Along with local club teams, several teams from Fiji were in the tournaments. We made about $15,000 from each of them.”

The congregation hopes to be able to shift into their new church by the end of the year. They estimate there is still $100,000 worth of renovations and improvements necessary before it will be fully ready.

The Auckland tabacakacaka (circuit) is growing steadily. The Mt Roskill congregation now includes more than 50 families. It draws people from throughout the Greater Auckland region for its 4pm services.

In 2005 Fijian congregations began in Hamilton and Pukekohe. Retired MCNZ presbyter Rev Mike Yasa serves the Pukekohe congregation. Tuwere visits the Hamilton congregation on the first and third Sundays of the month to lead services in Fijian and on the other weeks, the congregation joins the English speaking congregation at the Hamilton East parish.