Profit said to be at centre of Temple View development
The Temple View community has been duped out of its history for a profit, according to a former Church College student and son of the one of the original labour missionaries.
Utah-based member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Ra Puriri, said employees of the church had been deceptive in order to make a few dollars for the privileged few.
"I think it is just a make-work project for some church employees to keep them all busy because they get really nice salaries and they get to travel a lot," he said. "It's a really busy project because they get access to a lot of funds from Salt Lake."
He said members were told the church would be in charge of the development but was concerned the land was about to go into the hands of a private developer - a claim the church denied.
He also doubted there was sufficient demand for 100 residential properties in the hilltop community and said people had been misled.
"I think that's misinformation, that's misleading to put on the church website this beautiful drawing some consultant made, showing a lake and 100 houses. It's deception to me."
He said there was a clear line between the gospel and the business of the church and was angry that employees had coerced members into complying when they were told the project was a directive from church HQ in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"If you question Salt Lake then you are questioning God," he said.
"They are using the mana to put the fear of God into people."
His parents worked on the orginal development for four years - his father was a plumber and his mother was an office worker - and while the land was owned by the church, Puriri said it belonged to the community.
"To take all of that and all of a sudden, wake up one morning and say we're going to use this property to make money for the top one per cent income earners to me it so disrespectful of history and the past."
Temple View project leader Paul Coward would not respond to direct criticism of the project but said the church's message had remained the same since the closure of Church College in 2006.
"The church has published and distributed newsletters, posted information online, and held dozens of community meetings and other gatherings to share information and seek input," he said.
"The open and publicly-stated purposes of the project remain the same - to enhance and strengthen the neighbourhoods close to the Hamilton New Zealand Temple, to support and provide resources for a sustainable community and to maintain the sacred and beautiful surroundings of the temple."