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Blessing held for St Andrew's Church garden development

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

In May 2018, the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church submitted to the Hastings District Council Annual Plan, seeking a partnership with council to develop the garden space outside their buildings and to create a shared public space to be enjoyed by all.

This week, with council having contributed $15,000 to the project and the remainder fundraised by the church community, a blessing was held to mark the start of this development project.

For more than 60 years, Cook Islands Maori have worshipped at the church and the community wanted the garden to reflect this. In requesting the funding, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Minister Reverend Jill McDonald said the plan was for the centrepiece of the garden to be a seat in the shape of a vaka (waka) to symbolise journeying.

"This embodies our Christian faith; the Cook Islands migration to the land of milk and honey; and the journeying of the people of St Andrew’s from the cross, out into the community.

"Our faith is nothing if we are not able to demonstrate God’s love in the way we live out in the world. The sail will be the shade cloth that protects those under it from the hot sun and will contain Cook Islands Tivaivai motifs.

"Tivaivai is the traditional embroidered handcraft of Cook Islands women, it is an expression of love. The plants will be tropical representing the flora of the Pacific." Rev. McDonald said she saw the garden as a gift for the local community, an extension of the sacred space felt within the Church, for people to "come and be".

Conscious of the many struggles people have and how difficult life can be, her vision was that the garden would be a sanctuary where people could pause and rest a while.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said this was a wonderful community project that recognised local Cook Island people. "This will be a special place for people to enjoy our city."

Currently a high pedestrian traffic area with people cutting in front of the Church every day, it is hoped that this garden will help to strengthen social cohesion in the Hastings City Centre.

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