The attempted eviction of a Greek Orthodox priest from his home is causing friction in Auckland's tiny Greek community, made worse by the priest's supporters taking the matter to the High Court.

The threat to evict Father Paul Patitsas and his family from the church-owned flat they live in for free in Mt Albert had caused huge upset, with one former Hellenic Community committee member saying the situation had become like a soap opera.

"This is going to go to another level with these guys," said the man, who asked the Herald to remain anonymous to protect himself against retaliation.

"It's beyond control now. It's insulting - it's becoming Shortland Street."


The decision to evict Father Paul was made after being put to a vote in August last year at the Hellenic Community's Annual General Meeting, but there is a faction of families who want that decision reversed.

He was due to be evicted on June 15 but remains in the house for now while frictions are attempted to be resolved.

On Monday a group of families lodged a civil claim against six Hellenic Community committee members, seeking an injunction against the eviction.

Justice John Faire delayed his judgment until next week, adding he hoped the matter could be settled out of court.

Those in favour of evicting the priest say the Greek community does not have the finances to keep paying the utility bills for the flat he lives in with his family, and the house should be rented out to generate income for the community instead.

While Father Paul insists he earns his keep, saying people underestimated the time it took to carry out his duties, those who think he must go paint a different picture.

Nikos Petousis is the Greek consul in Auckland and has been part of the community for 60 years.

"[Father Paul] works only a couple of hours a day. Of course he can say he prays for our souls every day, but he is not what we call in New Zealand working," he told The Herald.


"The Auckland community decided it can't afford to look after the priest's family because there are only about 100 families in Auckland.

"What cannot be debated is there is no money."

The flat, which sits adjacent to the Greek Orthodox Church of The Holy Trinity on Western Springs Rd, is owned by the Hellenic Community and has in the past been rented to members of the public.

The income from the rent has then been used to fund community activities which supplements donations given by churchgoers.

Neither Father Paul or his wife were willing to find paid employment since they arrived in Auckland several years ago, Mr Petousis claimed.

"That has irritated people."

Last Wednesday, Father Paul wrote a letter to his congregation pleading they reconsider the decision to evict him from his home.

He quoted from the Bible, saying it did not cost much for the community to keep him and his family housed and warm.

"Is this too much to ask in return for my service."

Speaking to the Herald, Father Paul said those who were worried about money simply needed to "have faith."

"The church will grow and all our needs will be met."