New community centre for Mt Wellington
“A few of us from the church noticed the rise in homeless and those on the margins in our area and felt that we should do something about it,” says pastor Russell Grainger, “there is a verse in the Bible that forms part of the guiding kaupapa for our church, James 1:26-27:
‘Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.’”
The new community centre will continue to develop the work that the church has been doing via an op shop outreach which has been running in the building for some time. Plans for the centre include weekly free meals, partnering with organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and budgeting services, community classes to help people access new skills and education, and—most of all—a place where people in the community can feel like they belong.
“Very exciting times ahead for Mt Wellington as local providers, groups, clubs, associations, businesses join forces to address local issues with purpose and cause,” says Hainoame Tutama Fulivai from CAB, “I’m very excited that we have a community base for all locals to find a sense of belonging and value… Exciting times ahead!”
The name of the centre, Te Ao Ngākau, is significant for the church and the community, says Russell: “'Ngākau' means ‘the seat of affections, heart, mind and soul’ and this fits well with our trust’s tag line which is ‘Heart and Soul, Mt Wellington’.”
“In the logo we have red for the blood that courses through our veins as people and people are what we are about. There is also green which signifies the whenua, the ground, because as a church and trust we are connected to it here. We want this place to be a significant part of this community. There is the heart and this signifies the aroha that we have for all people and that everyone who enters this place will receive. And finally in the centre is the cross. This is because Jesus and our Christian faith is what motivates us to serve and make this world a better place for all.”
Story by Sophia Sinclair.
Photos supplied by Maungarei Community Christian Trust.