The Rotorua Salvation Army is starting off 2022 welcoming its new corps officer Hana Seddon to the city. Rotorua Weekender caught up with Hana this week to find out more about her previous work and what she is looking forward to with her future work in Rotorua.
Tell us about yourself/your background
Ko wai au? Who am I?
On my father's side I have whakapapa to Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāi te Rangi and Te Rarawa.
On my mother's side I have Irish heritage.
I was born and raised in the Hutt Valley, in a Christian whānau.
My mother had a really strong faith that got her through many tough times, and I learned a lot about resilience from her.
My family taught me we should always look out for others, not just for ourselves, and to always do the right thing for the right reasons.
In my teenage years and my 20s, I took a bit of a detour and got lost in alcohol and drugs for a while.
My two beautiful children were born during that time and I raised them as a single parent. They are now in their 20s and are doing really well. I miss them so much now that I've moved here without them.
The story of how I came to The Salvation Army goes back to 2004.
I actually broke my leg one drunken night and was stuck at home for six weeks.
In that time, I reflected on my life and how I wanted so desperately for it to be different. For the first time in a very long time, I prayed that God would help me find a new path. Instead of going back to my corporate job after my leg healed, I went to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to study social work for the next four years.
In 2005 I started a placement at the Salvation Army in Upper Hutt and ended up working there. I have been with the Army ever since.
I gave up drinking and a bunch of other things and started to live a very different life.
In 2011 I moved into fulltime ministry as an Officer (a minister/leader) in the Salvation Army and I'm so grateful for what that has opened up.
Over these past 18 years, I have had the opportunity to work Community Ministries, Reintegration Services, the Bridge Programme (addiction treatment), Recovery Church, Emergency Services and Māori Ministry.
In all of these places I have seen what is possible when there is aroha and manaakitanga and a willingness to work together in unity.
I absolutely love learning and caught the study bug from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
I studied Public Health and it helped me to see how the wider systems, structures, and policies impact on wellbeing in communities.
Now, my current study focus is on faith and theology from indigenous perspectives.
I also enjoy helping others to learn and hope to start a weekly class soon, teaching waiata and te reo Māori to whānau connected to the Salvation army.
I hope we can open that up to the wider community too if others are keen to join us.
How did you feel when you found out you would be making the move to Rotorua?
When I found out last year that the Salvation Army wanted me to come to Rotorua, I felt really grateful and excited about whatever lies ahead.
Even though I haven't started yet, I have already felt the love from so many people here in this beautiful place.
After four months of lockdown in Tāmaki Makaurau and singing by myself in online meetings, I have appreciated these opportunities to sing and sit alongside others again.
From my understanding, the corps (church) in Rotorua was first established in 1897 by Ernest Holdaway and the Māori ministry team at that time.
Tāngata whenua (people of the land) and tāngata Tiriti (people of the Treaty) worked together to meet the needs of the people in those times.
In these days, there are still so many pressures and challenges to navigate together.
I acknowledge Captains Ralph and Kylie Overbye and their children, as well as the wider team and faith community of the Salvation Army Rotorua for all of their dedication and hard work over many years.
Their support and encouragement has been so helpful as I move into this new season.
Are there any particular hopes or goals you are stepping into the role with?
The Salvation Army's mission is to care for people, transform lives and reform society. That is the mission I am committed to.
It can be incredibly hard work at times, but it is also incredibly rewarding.
As I take time to settle here, I know it will take some time to build relationships and to understand how I can support what is already happening here in Rotorua.
We are also looking at the possibility of starting a Recovery Church service one night a week, for those wanting to find freedom from addiction, in a safe and supportive place.
A lot of people have already been asking for us to look at ways of supporting tamariki and rangatahi, with youth groups and so on. So watch this space!
As the church starts to grow and more whānau come and fellowship together, my prayer is that we will be a church that moves out beyond the four walls of the building on a Sunday morning and out into community where we are needed in everyday situations.
My prayer is that we will know that loving God, means loving others.
My prayer is that we will stand up and lend our voices, our strength and our resources for issues that really do matter, regardless of our different backgrounds and beliefs.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Following a pōwhiri on Saturday, January 22 I will begin my new role, and will be leading my first Sunday service on January 23 at 10.30am on the corner of Pukuatua St and Amohia St.
Under the Orange Traffic Light setting, our services will be open to anyone, but at this stage, they're limited to 50 people.
We hope to livestream services for those who can't come along. Check out our Facebook page for more details or contact us on (07) 346 8113 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I feel blessed to be serving here in Rotorua, in Te Arawa, and look forward to connecting with you along the way.