Mission keeps seafarers connected

GOOD SUPPORT:  Bishop Richard Ellena opens the new Mission To Seafarers building.
GOOD SUPPORT: Bishop Richard Ellena opens the new Mission To Seafarers building.

Nelson's Mission to Seafarers, the only one in the South Island, has taken up its new home in rooms provided by Port Nelson, adjoining its own office block.

The mission's future has been under a cloud after its old building was deemed an earthquake risk, and it had difficulty raising money to cover running costs.

But a multi-year operational grant from the Nelson City Council and the port company's support have given it a reprieve.

Staffed by volunteers, the mission is part of a global Christian network that supports and helps visiting seafarers, regardless of their religious beliefs.

The Bishop of Nelson, Richard Ellena, opened the new facilities at a function last week.

In his address the board chairman, Nigel Whinney, said the mission was extremely grateful for all the help it had received from the port company.

It started in Nelson in the 1980s and the port had provided it with a home, insurance and power since then.

Since 2004 it had also given the mission more than $50,000 in cash, a significant upgrade of the original building, and IT hardware.

The mission was grateful for the city council's operational grant of $5000 a year for the next four years.

Support from the Nelson Diocesan Office and the volunteers who staffed the mission were key aspects of the mission's success, Whinney said.

"The seafarers who man the ships that pass through Port Nelson face long and hazardous times away from family and friends," he said.

The mission offered internet and telephone access, a safe, friendly and comfortable place to relax, and support to seafarers facing adversity, such as those stranded without pay.

Port Nelson Ltd chief executive Martin Byrne said he was pleased to be able to help the work of the mission in a tangible way.

"The volunteers do great work for seafarers who are often only in port for a short time but need a place to go where they can reconnect with their families and loved ones and relax, socialise and reflect," he said.

The mission is open from 7pm to 10pm when vessels are in port.

The Nelson Mail