By RENEE KIRIONA
A packaging firm has called in spiritual help to bless its premises because of staff fears that the factory might be haunted.
The Auckland company Rapak Asia Pacific has asked five ministers from different denominations to solve its problem.
General manager Andy Lewis said since moving into its new purpose-built premises at Neilson St in Onehunga last year, the business had encountered a number of unusual and "silly" problems.
"I'm not a superstitious person but when our staff come to talk about it we have to look at it - it's a respect thing," he said.
Many of the 125 factory workers believed the site was haunted or possibly on top of an ancient Maori burial ground, he said.
Some of the strange phenomena included a suspicious fire, stock going missing and an increase in staff absenteeism because of workers falling sick.
"The fire was caused from a small spark but then the chances of that happening were extremely rare," Mr Lewis said.
"Then there was a huge number of our stock that just went missing, plastic bags and boxes, which are really of no value to anyone."
While there were no sightings of ghosts, factory worker and Christian minister James Skipp said he still felt the need for a blessing ceremony, to take place within the next two weeks. The other ministers would come from the Maori, Pacific Island, Hindu, Christian and Catholic communities.
Heather Mackay of the New Zealand Skeptics Association, dismissed the claims.
"As far as the fire is concerned it could be that someone is firing the superstition. As far as people going home sick is concerned, it is that time of year anyway. And if the stock is not there then the chances are that someone is stealing it," she said.
Ngati Whatua kaumatua Dane Tumahai said the company was welcome to seek advice from elders of the Auckland-based iwi and Tainui which also had interests in the Onehunga area.