This is a true story that happened in Aotearoa (New Zealand), with its roots stretching back to the 50’s.
In the 1950’s, two totally independent occurrences took place. At the time, nobody would have foreseen how these two isolated events would intertwine with such power and passion into the next century.
The first event took place around Christmastime, 1953, in a small town in Aeoteora, where a son called Charles Hohepa was born to a well-respected Maori family, who had been Chiefs since time immemorial. In fact, when Charles’s great grandfather died in 1907, thousands of Maori were in mourning, such was the respect for the Hohepa iwi.
The second event took place some 6 years later, in Auckland, where Reverend William Antaeus Bloomfield and his wife Aldyth Isabel Bloomfield, set up the Peoples Worship in Freedom (PWF) Mission, as an Outreach//First Aid Post facility to pick up people who were in crisis, or facing potential crisis or were victims of casualty and crisis situations.
Reverend Bloomfield had very definite ideas on how his Mission should be operated. It was not set up as a ‘church’ per say, but an organisation that although following Christian beliefs, would go out into the community, and try and rescue people who had fallen off the tracks, and would not necessarily respond to the more formal approach of an established church environment.
So successful was he in his Mission, that by the early 60’s, the Reverend Bloomfield had managed (by selling one brick at a time to his supporters), to raise a deposit to enable him to purchase the small house he was using as his base in Auckland. Within three years he had also managed to pay off the mortgage completely.
Also, due to his good works, his Mission was chosen to help with the then young Queen Elizabeth on her visit in 1963.
However, towards the end of the ’70’s a number of the congregation were being wooed by another religion group, the ‘Jesus Only’ cult, popular in The States at that time. Now, one of the planks of the Rev Bloomfield’s successes was his ability to appeal to anybody in a distressed state, regardless of race, creed, colour, or religion.
There then started a series of infighting between the original Trustees of the PWF Mission, and this alternative group, which eventually formed itself into the Eden Refuge Mission, and this feud was to continue up to the present day.
Following the death of Reverend Bloomfield in 1973, this rival group used just about any form of underhand, and in some cases, violent ways to achieve their aims. Hardly the manner in which a supposed caring group should operate. However, the remaining Trustees stood firm to the original concepts of the PWF Mission.
In 1984, the two original 50’s based occurrences came together, as it was in this year that the then young Chief Charles Hohepa, who had been a regular follower of the PWF Mission, was invited by the surviving Trustees to join them on the Board. The surviving Trustees needed more understanding of the legal processes, as the Eden Refuge Trust was now beginning to use every available trick it could conjure up, in an attempt to wrest the PWF Mission’s assets, and direction, from the original Mission.
This began a struggle by Chief Charles to maintain and uphold the original wishes of the Mission, which was to last for over 25 more years.
To paint a picture of the opposition to the PWF, at one Sunday meeting, a newly elected Pastor, Pastor Ray Crossland, was forcibly removed from the pulpit by the leaders of the Eden Refuge Group, and on many occasions, staunch followers of the PWF Mission were manhandled out of the building.
At one point, in 1985, Chief Charles, now the sole remaining Trustee for the PWF, had the locks changed on the building. Some weeks later, the leaders of the Eden Refuge Trust smashed their way into the building, and changed the locks. Chief Charles summoned the local police, who when shown the Chief’s authorisation as sole trustee, had the Eden people evicted under duress of trespass.
So began a vigil by one man for many years, to keep the faith as the sole remaining Trustee with the original aims of the PWF Mission, in the face of overwhelming aggravation. Many other men would have walked away from such a situation, but Chief Charles stood resolutely firm.
However, by early 2000 it became apparent that the only real way to overcome this continuous harassment of the PWF and its loyal congregation, was to dispose of the building entirely, and look for bigger, more suitable premises.
After a lot more legal hassle, when the Eden Trust tried to issue caveats on the building, Chief Charles succeeded in disposing of this now dilapidated and condemned building for just NZ$350,000 in 2002. As the original building had become far too small, as well as being condemned by the local council due to underpinning issues, and there was insufficient funds from the sale proceeds, the idea of Chief Charles was to take the small proceeds of the sale, sign a Bond of Debt to the Trustees, and he invested these funds in a European venture. This was to enable him to acquire sufficient funds so that new, bigger and more suitable premises could be found. This would also totally distance the PWF from the ambitions of the Eden Refuge Trust whose owner now included a string of Night Clubs in their portfolio.
Problem solved…? Read on.
Because of The Chief’s very apparent strength of character, in 2008 he was elected to be the Executive Director of Resource Mobilisation of a UN-recognised non-governmental organisation, the World For World Organisation. Here, Chief Charles was in control of massive humanitarian funds.
Likewise, in 2006, while Chief Charles was living in Spain, the Maori Confederation of Chiefs bestowed on him the greatest honour of the Maori nation – he was selected to be the first Sovereign Mandate – the Sole Protector of the Maori nation.
At about the same time, because there were still rumblings from the Eden Refuge Trust, an 18 page Affidavit was written by The Chief, and witnessed at the New Zealand Embassy in Madrid, as a complete audit as to what had happened while The Chief was Trustee at the PWF Mission. Interestingly that the people running the Word For World Organisation, and the Confederation of Chiefs were all fully aware of Chief Charles’s struggle, and in spite of the rumours, they still elected him to high office in their organisations.
Imagine the surprise therefore, when the Eden Refuge Trust, purporting to be representing the PWF, took out a Court case against Chief Charles in 2006.
A clear cut case of ‘no case to answer?’ Yes, if the evidence as stated in The Chief’s Affidavit had been accepted by the Court. And also, if The Chief, who by now was suffering very poor health, had been permitted to present his case by video link.
So, some big questions must be asked now.
How was it that none of The Chief’s evidence was admitted to the Court, resulting in him being found guilty of all of the trumped up charges brought about by the Eden Refuge Trust?
The story does not end here, and justice – unpolluted and unbiased – with all the relevant facts, will prevail.
The warning is very stark. If you are the sort of person that will not be swayed against your moral convictions, then being a Trustee can indeed seriously damage your wealth.