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Church to dig up religious garden

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 10:05 22/03/2014
Porirua church group
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

LIVING ON A PRAYER: Church group members senior pastor Kitiona Kereti, Simotu Williams, Papalii Tanielu and Fata Meafou.

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A church group who built a "prayer mountain" on a piece of land they did not own or lease have opted to dismantle the Garden of Eden themselves.

Bread of Life Multicultural Worship Centre members cleared a disused parcel of land in Porirua opposite their church of scrub and created a guided walk, including a fenced lookout point and a large gateway welcoming people to Mt Zion Prayer Mountain, where they could meditate, pray and exercise.

The Rauta Cres land is part of the old Kenepuru Hospital grounds, and is part of the Ngati Toa deed of settlement to be signed later this year.

Property managers Colliers International asked the group to take down the garden after a complaint from a member of the public and the Ministry of Justice said there were health and safety concerns about the garden.

Despite appeals to local politicians and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson, the group was given until 4pm yesterday to take it down or contractors would be called into do it at the church's expense.

Spokesman Papalii Tanielu said it was a difficult decision to dismantle the garden and the mood was very solemn.

"In the end we've respected the minister's decision to dismantle it . . . It was a very good project for Christians but also for people who wanted to use it for other reasons."

Mr Tanielu said he had hoped fairness and commonsense would prevail, but accepted the outcome for now and hoped to talk about it again when ownership of the land changed later this year.

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- The Dominion Post

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