First Shovel hits the ground for the ‘Renovations of four Pacific Churches’ Project in Hamilton

From top left to bottom right: Hamilton Samoan Methodist Church, the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, the Westside Presbyterian Church, and the Wesleyan Church of Tonga.

In response to COVID19, the Provincial Growth Fund released funds for the Renovations of the Pacific churches and Marae’s across the regions. The purpose behind the funds was to create much needed employment for displaced peoples, to support Maori, Pacific and local businesses in the regions and to give back to our communities.

After much consultation with Pacific churches and Pacific contractors in the Waikato, on the 8th July 2020, Alignz Recruitment submitted an application on behalf of four Pacific Churches in Hamilton. This was the first time in many years different Pasifika congregations came together and truly collaborated for a meaningful project. Bringing together Samoans, Tongans, Cook Islanders, Niuean’s, Fijians, Vanuatuan’s, Maori and more.

Originally a cluster of five churches, this came down to four including the Hamilton Samoan Methodist Church, the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, the Westside Presbyterian Church, and the Wesleyan Church of Tonga.

Led by Alignz Recruitment, after 6 months of waiting from the initial application process in early July, the cluster of four key Pacific churches in Hamilton was approved much needed funding’s from the Provincial Growth Unit.

“Our church has been praying for years. It was like a blessing and answer to our prayers when this funding came through for our congregation” says Ere Ford, Leader from the Westside Presbyterian Church. This church is 115 years old, known as the First church and Hamilton’s only Pacific Island Presbyterian Church.

Ere Matenga, Leader from Westside Presbyterian Church.
Rev. Anatu Reupena from Congregational Christian Church of Samoa

“Our church has been fundraising for years for the renovation of our church and ministers house. It was a blessing when one Sunday night, Meta Tyrell and Felila Asiata approached us about this opportunity and helped us through this” an emotional Rev. Anatu Reupena shared as he blessed the project.

This project will impact many Maori and Pasifika people within the Waikato Region including four Pasifika Churches will be renovated, 400+ community members will benefit from this project, 50+ job opportunities will be created and 14+ businesses will be working on the project, 80% of which are Maori and Pasifika businesses.

COVID affected many businesses and jobs across the Trades and Construction sector, where many companies lost key contracts.

“When COVID hit, our company lost a key contract for the Auckland airport. This project could not have come at a better time. Not only that, but this really gives back to our community and is a chance for our Maori and Pasifika contractors to really come together, learn from one another and really get it right from the start. So we can all produce a finished project we can all be proud of” shared Rena Schuster, Director for Project Unite.

From left to right Felila Asiata-Feausi, National Growth and Partnership Manager of Alignz Recruitment andProject Manager for the Church Renovations, and Rena Schuster, Director for Project Unite.
Contractors working on the project. Missing four Pacific contractors.

“We also need to acknowledge Felila Asiata and Tonga Robertson for their hard work and voluntary hours they put in to bringing everyone and everything together (churches, contractors and tender) to make this happen.”

This project also highlights female leadership in the Trades and Construction industry. Felila Asiata-Feausi from Alignz Recruitment was the key person in the consulting process with all church leaders and contractors, to tendering for the project on behalf of the churches to now being the Project Manager for this project. With Tonga Robertson, Director of NEST Interiors and Design as the Project Coordinator.

“This is Social Procurement at its best. Bringing in our community, creating jobs for our Maori and Pasifika people, and bringing opportunity for our Maori and Pasifika businesses. This is the start of many future projects together” Tjay Asiata, National Group Manager for Alignz Recruitment shared.

On Tuesday 1st December marked the official opening and blessing for the Pasifika Church Renovation Project, to start on the Hamilton Samoan Methodist Church on Wednesday 2nd December. Pioneering a new way for social procurement for our Maori and Pasifika businesses to work together with churches and government to bring transformational changes to our communities. The celebration hit home the positive and emotional impact this will have on our communities and Maori, Pacific and local businesses and people in the Waikato.

Lesa Apulu Aumatumua Tyrell, Co-director of Alignz Recruitment opening the event.
From back row, left to right: Lesa Tyrell, Meta Tyrell, Felila Asiata-Feausi, Delwyn Abraham, Mayor Paula Southgate, Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau Chair of Waikato Pacific Business Network, Leo’o Taotua from Ministry of Pacific Peoples, Raneel Chand, Kerwan Rose, Tjay Asiata, Lua Sao, Alana Tyrell, Analisa Tyrell, Sam Nonoa.
From left to right: Meta Tyrell, Lesa Tyrell, Mataina Reupena, Ere Ford, Rev. Anatu Reupena, Delwyn Abraham from PDU, Leo’o Taotua from MPP, Rev. Masunu Utumapu, Asalele Utumapu, Rev. Sione Katoa, Talanoa Katoa.