This city still has hundreds of children in motels. It’s the seed bed for a disaster in 20 years as these adults of the future drift from one motel unit to another. From one school to another. These are the neighbour-less drifting families shot to bits for a variety of reasons. However, the Pontius Pilate handwringing of officialdom seems to be ignoring the long-term ramification of this inevitable social disaster.
The current ignoring of the consequences of these lost children and families reminds me of a quote from Winston Churchill:
“The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences,”
In Christchurch at the same time as hundreds of children and their families are living in motels some of the churches and the city council are currently selling land to the highest bidder.
Some, like the Oxford Terrace Baptist and several other denomination’s parishes are either deeply engaged in providing housing for the poor, or in the process of undertaking this laudable endeavour.
I recently highlighted the Anglican Church’s St Lukes site, owned by the church since 1858, was for sale to the highest bidder. Despite the previous parishioners requesting that the site be made available to community housing providers. The “For Sale” sign outside the church land has had a sign showing that the land has been sold subject to conditions. I guess for 30 pieces of silver.
What the Anglican General Synod recently directed constituent members to consider with spare pieces of land:
At a recent General Synod meeting the following motion was passed:
Motion 11 Mission Aligned Investment SWG Report
Mover: Ven M Wallace Seconder: Mr J Whitehead
That this special General Synod / te Hīnota Whānui 2021:
Adopts the ‘He Waka eke noa Motion 11 report on Fruitful Stewardship through Mission Aligned Investment’ and:
- Requests the officers, directors, trustees and fiduciaries of all financial, property and real asset owning and administering entities and trusts (collectively ‘financial entities and trusts’) of this church to study this report and examine their current and prospective investments, impact and asset management policies in the light of this report and the five-fold mission statement of the Constitution of this church;
- Requests all financial entities and trusts develop longer term asset allocation and utilisation strategies in the light of this report and the five-fold mission statement of the Constitution of this church;
- Requests all financial entities and trusts of this church to consider what changes are needed in any constitutions, trust deeds or other founding documents or investment policies, to empower them to make such investments and to make such amendments as are needed to permit such investments;
- Requests all financial entities and trusts of this church to begin to re-align their investments and assets towards fruitful mission and financial stewardship; and
- Requests that each Diocese, Hui Amorangi and episcopal area of the church reports progress (what has been done, why (as expressed in target social or environmental impacts) where and by whom) back to their own ministry units in open, transparent and timely ways and to the General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui 2022 pertaining to fruitful stewardship in action.
Notes: overview and summary of the Motion 11 work:
He waka eke noa – A waka we are all in together
“Passive investment may be the right investment solution for many, but passive stewardship is the answer for no one…
“Money is not morally neutral – it can do harm and it can do good.”
Archbishop Justin Welby, Aug 2019
Many of us know and deeply respect the mover of this motion, Meri Wallace, a community activist from way back and wife of the Anglican Bishop of Te Wai Pounamu, +Richard Wallace. Meri has worked with the poor in this country all her life and this motion reflects her empathy and commitment to social justice.
Despite this decision by the General Synod the Anglican Church in Canterbury continues to sell land which would be ideal for affordable housing. Jenny Smith has for decades been an advocate for those who have lived in accommodation which provides single rooms in Central City. After the earthquakes many of these old houses have been pulled down and filled with the sort of Air-b-n-b stuff built by the likes of Williams Corporation. The land for sale would be ideal for those who Jenny speaks for.
I know the Church authorities will argue that they have their various social justice agencies performing an important role in this City. We applaud that. However, many of those they serve also need housing, and the Church is selling its valuable land which could assist much better than serving up a big feed at Christmas time.
Another site is for sale:
Recently another site has been advertised for sale by the Church. It’s on the Barbadoes Street, St Asaph Street corner. It’s the old Anglican convent site. If ever there was a perfect site to meet the needs of those in our community who need accommodation this is it. I can also see it as being really appealing to a developer who wishes to provide up-market accommodation for wealthy people to enjoy central city living across the road from a future stadium. That will bring in the big bucks for the Cathedral rebuild. Is that the only purpose of the Church?
How about the Anglicans and the Catholics creating a model of collaborative thinking here:
Maybe it is time for the Anglicans and the Catholics to enter dialogue about sharing the Cathedral in the Square. That would address the dilemma the current Catholic Bishop has about the crazy decisions of recent times to build a monster cathedral in Armagh Street. I hope that the new Bishop reverses the earlier decision. With empty seats in Catholic Churches every Sunday who could justify building a $370m building right now? The Church has also been selling land after several parishes have been closed. In every place where parishes have closed affordable housing is possible on the sites. It just hasn’t happened.
The Catholic Church is sitting on a massive investment in land North of Armagh Street. If this land was even partially handed over to address housing for those struggling to find accommodation in partnership with the community housing sector what a wonderful message that would send to the world. Instead of providing car parking spaces on the old Cathedral site in Barbadoes Street what about a comprehensive plan for housing on the site. Many of the families which have children at the school next door are struggling with housing challenges.
How about it Anglicans and Catholics. What about a shared Cathedral. It’s done in other parts of the world. You do worship the same God. Is denominationalism an obstacle to living the challenges of the Gospels?
I remind the Church leaders and their various ultra conservative advisors to contemplate this from John Chapter 3 verse 17:
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person.
Here’s a voice which the Church and local communities should listen to:
In an article in the Sunday Times Paul Gilberd, CEO of Community Housing Aotearoa the agency which is the voice for community housing providers in NZ, wrote:
The Government must take action and continue its large-scale investment into housing infrastructure, and in particular into new, affordable housing delivery across the country – especially in the areas impacted by recent weather events.
Now is not the time for austerity and budget cuts, it is the time for doubling down on the significant progress of the past few years.
I totally agree with this sentiment. But it’s not just the government its all of us who must play a role with this challenge. Local government, churches, iwi all have land the most precious element needed for housing people. New land is not being created, in fact with global warming much existing land is falling into the sea.
On a recent trip to visit an offsite housing manufacturer in Gisborne we found no less than five of the full-time staff working as apprentice builders in the factory, living in their cars. These are young homeless people, working full time jobs and earning living wages. In New Zealand, in 2023.
No water, no toilets, no home. It just isn’t right, is it?
As we move from emergency management into the rebuild phase, let’s work together with each of these communities and focus on longer-term solutions, not more number 8 wire temporary ones. Let us agree as active citizens on the vision we have for our country, and all our people. Let us recommit to the provision of adequate housing for all Kiwis.
It’s a big job, but when we work together, and when we look and we listen to our communities when they tell us what they need, we can achieve the extraordinary.
We’ve done it before; we can do it again.
Here’s the article: https://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/300820683/housing-is-nearing-a-humanitarian-crisis-in-this-country.
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