Destiny Church is to move its headquarters to a larger South Auckland base - a move church leader Bishop Brian Tamaki says will put it closer to those in desperate need of change.
Its church, social operations and school are moving from Mt Wellington to a 3.1ha Druces Rd property in Wiri. Destiny will take possession of the commercial property, which is worth $7.6 million, according to Auckland Council's latest valuation, by December. The deal allows the church to lease the property with an option to buy after it has sold its Allright Place headquarters.
Bishop Tamaki announced the decision at a gathering of 2000 members in Rotorua at the weekend. He said they "overwhelmingly" backed the decision.
A new auditorium and a new school would be built, he said. Destiny taught 200 children from primary to college age and would be looking at expanding its educational capacity.
The church wanted to be where it could make the most difference in people's lives, he said.
"It gives us the ability to do more. South Auckland is always where I wanted to be, to be honest, because the bulk of our congregation is Maori and Pacific Island. It gives us the opportunity to help families do better and give them a better future. I'm looking for the worst problems. I'm looking for those who have not managed to get the help that they need from other agencies."
It is not clear how rank-and-file members will contribute financially to the development and Bishop Tamaki would not be drawn on how much the project will cost.
In 2008 a property deal fell through which would have seen the church move to the area much earlier. At the time TV3 reported the church was planning an exclusive walled "kingdom" in Manukau and $2.4 million had been raised in donations for the project. One man said his mother planned to sell her six houses in Nelson, donate the proceeds and move to the new development.
Bishop Tamaki said he expected criticism that the move would put him closer to poor, vulnerable people whom the church would pressure for donations.
"We've been through all the controversy and we're still here. People's lives are changed for the better. They're leaving behind a life of crime, a life of addiction, violence and becoming better families and I think that speaks for itself."