History of our Church – Auckland Fiji Methodist Circuit
The first Fijian Methodist congregation in Auckland was worshipping at Pitt Street. The late Rev. Elia Samusamuvodre was the first Presbyter appointed by the Fiji Methodist Conference to serve members at Pitt Street before moving to Mt Eden. Rev Samusamuvodre was followed Rev. Mosese Naivolasiga and Rev. Jone Lagi who later became the President of the Methodist of Fiji and Rotuma. In those years the convenors of the Fijian Advisory Committee were Isoa Matawalu (1985-1988) before Susan Strickland from 1989-2003) and Dakai Bolatagici. Rev. Mikaele Yasa was the superintendent of the Wasewase ko Viti kei Rotuma e Niusiladi.
Rev Jone Lagi was the last Presbyter appointed from the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma to the Auckland Fijian Methodist Circuit. There was no Presbyter serving the Fijian congregation after Rev Lagi, until the arrival of Rev. Dr. Ilaitia Tuwere in 2000 on the invitation of the Anglican Church to teach at St Johns College. Rev. Dr Tuwere was then requested by the Methodist Church in Fiji to serve the Fijian congregation in Auckland. After his acceptance He was inducted on Mach 7th 2001 at the Wesley Mt Roskill Church. He was also appointed Superintendent of the Wasewase ko Viti to succeed Rev Mikaele Yasa from 2004 to 2006 before Rev Peni Tikoinaka.
There were three Fijian congregations in Auckland, at Mt Roskill, Kyber Pass and Patumahoe (Pukekohe). In June 2002, a plan was mooted to combine the three congregations into one. They were to put all their resources together and have just one congregation and acquire a Church. At that stage, it was made clear that when members grew and there was a need for another Church than the members of that congregation were to support to contribute towards it. The plan was supported by Mt Roskill, Pukekohe and some members of the Kyber Pass congregations.
The Auckland Fiji Parish had been working towards acquiring a Church as its base from June 2002. Through the advice of Manukau Auckland Synods Property and Administration Committee (MASPAC), and the assistance of the Methodist Church of New Zealand Te Haahi Weteriana O Aotearoa, the Parish managed to acquire a property on Mays Road, Onehunga for $800,000 through an auction. Again, through the support of the Auckland and Manukau Synods, and also the support of the Tauwii, the 2009 Christchurch Conference agreed in principle to the concept of Connexional Mission Priority and affirms that the Fijian Ministry as a Connexional Mission Priority. Unfortunately, through objections of the neighbours, the resource consent to develop the Mays Road property was not approved by the Auckland City Environment court. The decision did not damper the resolve of the Auckland Fiji Methodist Circuit, in fact it fuelled its determination. The Mays road property was sold for one million dollars and there was a capital gain of $200,000.
The Auckland Fiji Methodist Circuit Property Committee AFMCPC) searched the four corners of Auckland for a Church or a place that is available for its base. Some church buildings, warehouses, Community halls, rugby clubs and redundant offices were looked at. Working very closely with MASPAC that was providing us with valuable information and guidance. The Auckland Fiji Methodist is indebted to the Convenor of MASPAC, Rev Keith Taylor for the sound professional advice and guidance.
Rev Keith Taylor called on Sunday morning 21st October 2012 about his dream the night before where he saw in his dream a Church in Howich that was not used. It belonged to the Methodist Church of New Zealand. He gave the address and the Property Manager of the Auckland Fiji Methodist Circuit, Mr Alfred Mucunabitu who is also a member of MASPAC, was immediately contacted with Rev Taylor’s dream. Mr Mucunabitu was in Pakuranga at that time and was look at the property.
After the Church service that Sunday afternoon at Mt Roskill, Mr Mucunabitu presented to the Finance and Property Committee enlarged photographs of different angles of this Church and the car park. We liked it and indeed thanked God for this property information. Rev Keith Taylor arranged for an inspection of the property on Saturday October, 27th 2012 and meeting Rev Freddy De Alwis, the Presbyter for Howick and Pakuranga. It was confirmed that we liked the Church to be our base. A Memorandum of Understanding was negotiated and agreed to all parties. The AFMC agreed to pay off the outstanding debt of the Howich/Pakuranga Parish of $158,400. There were some renovations cost approximately $100,000 before the inaugural service of March 16th, 2013 and was officiated by President Rex and Vice President Jan. Also present at the memorable service was the President of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma at that time, the late Rev. Dr. Tuikilakila Waqairatu.
It was long journey and the AFMC is grateful to the Howich/Pakuranga Parish for their generous consideration to hand over the Guardianship to be the base of the Auckland Fijian Methodist Circuit. It is a Human Development Centre and home where young and old meet to share and impart knowledge and life experiences. It is a place or Vale where members gather regularly to submit themselves to God in worship and giving God his total worthship.
The current facilities deny members the opportunity to share the traditional Methodist cup of tea after the Church service. The average attendance on the Sunday morning service is approximately between 150 to 190 and the hall can only cater for 40 people. So, when there is a burning reason to have a get together after the service, community halls would be hired.
For this reason, the Circuit is planning to build a hall to make full use of the available car parking spaces and provide a place for social gathering. It is hoped that the Church will approve the establishment of a Trust (Matanakilagi Auckland Fijian Methodist Mission Charitable Trust) to help raise fund from outside the Church to build the much needed hall facilities. Matanakilagi is the Fijian word for the Shepherd’s Rod. The Matanakilagi or shepherd’s rod is a very close companion of the shepherds. They use it as weapons, as tool to pull the sheep that fall over steep hills and they can rest on it when they are tired. We hope with the approval of the Church to register the Matanakilagi Auckland Methodist Mission Charitable Trust we would be able raise funds for the hall.
After the Official handing over service distinguished guests and members gathered at the tent outside for the Traditional Fijian Ceremony. Tent would not been hired if there was a bigger hall. However the tent is very significant at this point time our journey. That tent is sign of temporary and movement. The tent appeared 138 times in the Old Testament and was a vocabulary of the movement of faith.
There were numerous organisations and individuals we would like to mention and thank for their contributions that have helped in our endeavour to have a Vale or base. The Auckland and Manukau Synods were supporting us from the outset. Vinaka Vakalevu. MASPAC was always at our side providing sound advice and decisions. Rev Freddy De Alwis and members of the Howick/Pakurnga Parish for their generous considerations by allowing us to worship in this Vale and more so by agreeing to transfer the guardianship.
Rev Keith Taylor, was a source of inspiration and with his experience and commitment to our quest to acquire a Vale. He never whined when disturbed, even sometimes at home after the normal working hours. What he saw in his dream is the treasure that is now our base and our Vale.
We would like to thank former Vice President Jan for her continuous support and assurances. Her inspiration meant a lot especially when hopes have at times gone through evaporation cycle. Vinaka Vakalevu Jan.
At one stage a Church building that was an old rugby union club was found. We were very surprised and extremely encouraged when Keith told us the General Secretary would like to inspect the property. When we turned up at the Te Atatu South Church the owners (Korean Congregation) may be after seeing the General Secretary thought, “Well maybe we can increase the price, because this gentlemen who speaks with authority must be a millionaire. Rev David Bush vinaka vakalevu and thank you sincerely for your support.
We acknowledge the inspiration and the visionary leadership of Rev Dr Ilaitia Sevati Tuwere and through his firm believe in God continued to emphasise the importance of God’s presence in every aspect of our lives. It was through his influence and encouragement to maintain healthy relationship with one another and to be thankful to God. To empower Jesus was to participate uniquely in the good news of God’s reign.
We salute the Methodist Church of New Zealand, Te Haahi Weteriana O Aotearoa for its support and guidance. We acknowledge the support and leadership of Joji Tikodei, Vakatawa Vakacegu (former Lay Pastor), Kaurasi Kunusi Lagi, Joeli Tawake, Metui Kamakorewa, Alfred Mucunabitu, Suliasi Naulivou and the members of the Finance and Property Committee of the Parish.