Tauranga church gifts property to iwi

Curate Church pastors Joel and Katie Milgate. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Curate Church has made the decision to give a significant piece of property to a Tauranga hapū as part of righting historical wrongs.

The land and building at 14 Christopher St currently houses the church's Manaaki Centre, which is a hub for recovery programmes, community meals, restorative justice and counselling, and social service support.

'We have been led by God to gift a piece of land we own back to the mana whenua,” says Curate senior pastor Joel Milgate.

'Our land and building at 14 Christopher St was originally part of the whenua of the Ngāi Tamarāwaho people and was given by them to the stewardship of the Anglican Mission Society for the purpose of furthering the work of the Gospel.”

Joel says during the land wars, the Te Papa peninsula, which the property is part of, was used as a stronghold by the Crown against the tangata whenua.

Instead of the land being handed back to iwi, it was handed on to be used for a different purpose than originally intended.

'After the land wars in which more land was taken, 4/5 of the land was given by the Anglican Church to the Crown and used for the establishment of the Tauranga we know today. This travesty has caused great grievance and division among the church and tangata whenua.”

Ongoing reconciliation work resulted in a formal apology from the Anglican Church to Tauranga Moana iwi in 2018.

'We want to formally recognise the great grievance caused,” says Joel. 'We cannot begin to fully appreciate the grievance, hurt and disorientation this has caused Tauranga Moana iwi.

'While we didn't personally commit this wrong, it is within our power to do something about it. We want to be a church that is engaged in making wrong things right and seeing God's redemptive purposes fulfilled in our communities.”

Research by Alistair Reece on loss suffered by Māori in the 19th Century and the responsibility of the Christian Church towards reconciliation and forgiveness has helped with Curate leadership understanding the role of restitution of land and other resources.

Joel says that through much prayer and discernment, the elders of Curate Church are in full agreement to pursue the gifting of the land and building to the Ngāi Tamarāwaho people.

'We believe that God has spoken to us about gifting this land. We are very grateful to the Hosanna Trust without whom we would not have the building in the first place to give away, and we want to thank everyone at Curate for their generosity which has and will make this gift possible.”

Sylvia Willison, a spokesperson for Ngāi Tamarāwaho, says the hapū are overwhelmed by the gift.

'This is extraordinary, so special and humbling,” says Sylvia.

'For our people who have gone now, this is a testimony in terms of the hard work and suffering they endured here in their time on this earth. They would be raising their hands in praise in heaven saying how beautiful this gift is coming back to our people.”

'We're so grateful and thankful for what Curate Church has done and the example and leadership they're providing to the community. This is part of the healing journey for our people.”

Curate is in ongoing discussions with Ngāi Tamarāwaho to navigate through making the gift a reality.

'We still have $1million of debt on the property, and our hope is to be able to clear this debt, and gift the underlying land formally and legally by 2023, and the buildings by 2033,” says Joel.

'The Manaaki Centre will continue to operate in this building for the next 10 years, then when the buildings are gifted it will be up to Ngāi Tamarāwaho what this building will be used for.”


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment.