A Ngongotaha pastor is turning the other cheek after being attacked by five young people that left him bruised and battered.
Pastor Mark Kahu said he has forgiven the teenagers aged 14-16 who were involved in an unprovoked assault outside the Ngongotaha Youth Centre on Taui St nearly three weeks ago. The centre had been closed over the school holidays to let "talk die down" but reopened their doors last night.
"It's not worth holding a grudge over," Mr Kahu said.
"A person who holds their anger all the time is the person it hurts the most. Not only that but when you sort of look at the background of each kid you understand where these kids are coming from."
Mr Kahu said on the night of the incident, they had to escort a young girl from the centre for continually being disrespectful to the volunteers. He said she later returned with her older brother and three others when the confrontation started.
"They were trying to get in and we weren't going to let that happen. This building doesn't belong to us so we want to look after it and not only that but we had to think about the safety of the other kids."
A scuffle broke out involving three young men and two young women against the pastor which left him with a black eye and swelling on his face's left side.
"Straight after the incident, the girl that started it all, posted it on Facebook and bragged about what they had done to me and naming me," he said.
"The news went as far as Tauranga and even to Australia, my younger brother who lives in Brisbane was really upset."
Mr Kahu said that there was a lot of anger in the community but he wanted people to be able to forgive like he had.
"I've known three of them since they were babies. Those three we've sort of met and made up and shook hands and am pretty sure they're remorseful.
Police charges were not able to be laid. However there remained a trespass order against the five until the centre's trust determined they were allowed back in.
Mr Kahu said the actions of a few hadn't affected his passion for the centre and working with young people.
"I just care about the kids. I've been on the road where these kids are heading, gone through all the drugs and violence, the alcohol, the crime and just realised, 'Man, if only somebody could have taken me under their wings when I was young and showed me a different way then maybe I wouldn't have gone done the path that I did."
The centre will be open again tomorrow afternoon from 5pm.