New Home for Wellington Inner City Ministries
Wellington Inner City Ministries has seen an exciting developments in its mission. Te Whare Tira, The Inn, officially opened on 12 April with a kawanga whare, a formal Māori blessing for the whare (home). Wellington Inner City Ministries also received a new name of Te Aroha o Te Aro, meaning ‘The Love for Te Aro’.
There was kai (food) and korero (conversation) in the afternoon as people gathered to see the site and celebrate its significance in the community.
Te Whare Tira is located in the heart of Wellington on Taranaki Street, and is now the place where Major Joe Serevi undertakes his ministry to those who often live on the streets in the inner-city community.
Joe is in his fifth year of street and court ministry but hasn’t had a base for people to come to until now. Opening Te Whare Tira has been a dream of his for quite some time.
Despite having a new whare, Joe emphasised that he will still go out on the streets. However, he can now bring people into the centre at any time.
‘My goal is to have a place to meet that is warm, dry and welcoming,’ says Joe. The centre being a whare is important, as the majority of his client base is Māori. He wants them to know they have a whare, a home, where everyone can belong.
Inner City Ministries provides pastoral support, advocacy and connects people with other Salvation Army centres such as Newtown for food parcels. It also assists people access emergency housing. Te Whare Tira will also be the place where Joe’s life groups will gather on Wednesday mornings and evenings.
He is also hoping to get other social service organisations to come into the centre to run workshops and to help meet more needs in the community.
Joe has built up good relationships with people in the community as they know and trust him as a friend, pastor and even father figure. Many of the people he connects with don’t have whānau (family), so he is often fondly referred to as ‘Papa Joe’.
Joe wants everyone in the community to come as they are, and they will be met with love no matter their circumstances.
Even though there will be many services offered, Joe said the heart of the mission is to build the kingdom of God and to model his life vision of ‘love God, love people’.