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Mission to Seafarers officially opens its new home at Port Nelson

Posted on 11/06/2014

Bp Richard Ellena cuts the tape

The Mission to Seafarers has a new home at Port Nelson thanks to the support of its dedicated team of volunteers and multi-year operational grant from the Nelson City Council and the Port itself providing premises at its Low St offices.

The Mission’s new facilities were opened on 5 June by the Bishop of Nelson Richard Ellena at a gathering attended by special guests including the Mayor of Nelson City Rachel Reese and Port Nelson CEO Martin Byrne.

The Mission to Seafarers at Port Nelson is part of an international Christian network that provides support and assistance to seafarers, regardless of their own particular religious beliefs, and is the only such mission in the South Island.

“The seafarers who man the ships that pass through Port Nelson face long and hazardous times away from family and friends,” says Nelson Mission to Seafarers board chairman Nigel Whinney. “The Mission offers internet and telephone access as well as a safe, friendly and comfortable place to relax.”

The Mission also provides key support to seafarers who are facing adversity.

“If they are stranded without pay, with no food, money or ticket home, we provide help with the relevant embassy and legal and immigration issues. There are also unfortunately cases where seafarers are not paid by their company, sometimes after many months at sea. The Mission helps negotiate with his employers and arrange legal or union advice. If seafarers are injured or require hospital treatment our volunteers visit them in hospital.”

The Mission is staffed entirely by volunteers and depends on donations for it financial support. The Nelson City Council made the commitment last month to provide an annual operational grant of $5,000 to the Mission for the next four years.

“We are very grateful for the Port’s and the Nelson City Council’s support and our new facilities,” says Mr Whinney. “We will be able to provide a warm and welcoming environment for visiting seafarers here.”

The Mission started in the 1980s at Port Nelson and since then the Port has provided the Mission with a premises, insurance and power.

Since 2004 the Port has provided more than $50,000 towards the operation of the Mission through cash support and also in the form of a significant upgrade of its original building as well.

“In addition to that the Port has supplied IT hardware to help set up the internet and Skype area for seafarers to use. We are extremely grateful. We also are indebted to the Anglican Diocesan Office for providing our spiritual base and supervising the day to day financial running of the centre. Without this help we would have to curtail our activities or even close our doors.”

Port Nelson CEO Martin Byrne says that he is pleased to be able to support the work of the Mission in a tangible way. “The Mission’s volunteers do great work for seafarers who are often only in Port for a short time but need a place to go where they can reconnect with their families and loved ones and relax, socialise and reflect.”

The Mission is open in the evenings from 7pm-10pm when vessels are in Port and provides low-cost access to the internet, phones and phone cards, a pool table and television and tea and coffee making facilities.

For more information about the Mission to Seafarers go to: http://www.mtsportnelson.com/

Bp Richard Ellena cuts the tape

Bishop of Nelson Richard Ellena cuts the ribbon to officially open the new Mission to Seafarer’s
premises at Port Nelson.