The Bible has much to say about the sin of stealing and God even made it one of the 10 Commandments — thou shalt not steal.

But someone who stole ornaments, a blue birdbath and three plants, from Whangārei's Ratana Church obviously didn't get the message.

The theft has disappointed those who tend the gardens and the minister who is proud of the work done at the Kamo Rd church.

Minister Tohu Pou said as a church their job was to help people and all people had to do was ask.


"I think to myself maybe they needed those things more than us," Pou said.

"It's devastating for the ladies (who tend the garden) as they spend a lot of time doing the gardens. They do this work out of love and out of no cost to the church."

And the Bible is also big on forgiveness and Pou said he did not condemn those who had stolen from the church but instead extended a helping hand.

"I would like to think we could reach out to those people and possibly help them. The period of Covid-19 has been a difficult time for some people."

One of those that spends hours in the gardens is 80-year-old Marie Oldridge.

"It breaks my heart that someone would do this," she said.

The bright blue ceramic birdbath had been donated to the church by her sister, who used to help in the garden but was now in a retirement home.

"Financially we haven't got millions. We've done it all out of our own pocket. For someone to do this to a church is not good," she said.


The theft was discovered last week but could have happen any time since lockdown started as there had been no one regularly attending the church building.

Oldridge said a camellia and bottle brush and hibiscus plant were dug out of the garden and taken away.

She wondered how the thieves carted away the birdbath, that stood about 1.5m, as it was heavy and the base had been set into the ground.

A garden ornament — an angel — had also gone.

"We hope that these things will be returned. We do this work from the heart and wouldn't want to get paid."

An appeal for the return of items has also been posted on various community pages on Facebook.

In preparation for the first service this Sunday since Covid-19 lockdown, Oldridge had been at the church hall this week making sure things were ship shape.

"It will be nice to see everyone again."