Tauranga's Curate Church giving $3m worth of real estate to local iwi says it's just the beginning of reconciliation

The Tauranga church giving $3 million worth of real estate to local iwi believes it is just the start of reconciliation with Māori. 

The pentecostal Curate Church has decided to hand over a commercial building in the city's CBD to local iwi Ngāti Ranginui and its hapu Ngai Tamarawaho.

"We live in a city where most of the land that we see was taken, and so we wanted to see the church be in the centre of the restoration of that story," Pastor Joel Milgate told The Hui.

Māori originally sold 1300 acres of land in what is now the Tauranga CBD to the church in the 1800s, but there was a caveat the church was to keep the land safe and never sell it.

After the land wars, the church ignored the caveats and sold the land to the government. 

After learning the local history, Pastor Milgate said he felt called to return Curate's building to mana whenua. 

"We can't appreciate all of the grief, all of the disorientation that having all of your whenua taken means. But we can understand it on some level and we can recognise it," he said.

Ngāti Ranginui kuia Hemoata Willison said it's a "really gracious koha".

"It's coming from the heart of people that have learnt about our history. It's a form of reconciliation. There's many things still to happen, but it's the journey of healing as well."

Situated on 700 square metres of land, the building is currently used by the church as a community centre. The iwi has not yet decided what it will do with the property but community work will most likely continue there. 

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and the Public Interest Journalism Fund.