Everyone's invited to Jehovah's conference
Hamilton, prepare to be knocked.
Ten thousand Jehovah's Witnesses are about to descend on the city for a major conference and the door knockers are already out in force to invite residents along.
"We are heading out every day to knock on as many doors as possible to invite people along," said Hamilton Jehovah's Witness Doug Cochrane.
"We don't want to be pushy and most people are just politely taking the invitation and leaving it at that."
Jehovah's Witnesses will host a three-day convention at both Mystery Creek Events Centre and Claudelands Arena from this Friday. It will be the largest convention in Hamilton to date and will be the first time the city has hosted international delegates. About 750 international delegates from countries including the United States, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Samoa have begun arriving in Hamilton ahead of the convention.
They have joined local Jehovah's Witnesses in door knocking.
"We want to spread the word that the convention is open to the public," said Cochrane.
"We have a little invite with all the details printed, it's quite brief. It doesn't matter what your religion or belief is, we'd love to see new people come along."
The 10,000 Jehovah's Witnesses will be equally split between Claudelands and Mystery Creek, with many families from out of town camping at Mystery Creek, while others will stay in the city's hotels.
That means a big boost to the local economy, said Jehovah's Witness spokesman Clarence Ririnui.
"This is our largest convention to date and with 10,000 people visiting over the weekend, it's a big boost for the local hospitality industry during what is usually a very quiet time," he said.
Accommodation in wider Hamilton was close to 100 per cent occupancy from Thursday, said Robyn Ward, a Waikato Motel Association member and co-owner of the Aquarius Motor Inn.
"We are fully booked from Thursday and I think that is the same for most other motels," she said.
The Jehovah's Witnesses were nothing if not organised, she said.
"All the bookings were done last January and February - as soon as the dates of the conventions were announced the bookings were made, and most were paid up in full at the time of booking. They are nothing if not committed and organised."
Jehovah's Witnesses George Gray said the convention "took a bit of work" to organise and preparations had to be made well in advance. "But we are very used to this kind of arrangement."
Gray is among those out door knocking with invitations, and acknowledges that some people are less than receptive to their advances.
- © Fairfax NZ News